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Datsun getting ready for a comeback.


The Japanese brand that build the foundations for today's Nissan empire, and converted tens of thousands of Australians to the strengths of the compact 1600 and sporty 240Z, is being readied for a new role in the 21st century. 

Nissan is apparently preparing plans for a price fighting Datsun range that will sell in Russia, India, Indonesia and other emerging car markets. Reports from Japan suggest Datsun is the favoured badge for the new push, aiming for around 300,000 sales a year with vehicles - minivans in addition to cars - priced from as little as $5700.

But don't expect any born-again Datsuns in Australia, as Nissan believes a price-fighter push would not work. "We would fail to understand where a brand like that would fit in the portfolio here," Nissan spokesman, Jeff Fisher, tells Carsguide.

"We've got the ST Micra at the lower end, all the way up to the Nissan GT-R at the top end. We've already got the bases covered, in the best sense. Where would we fit a Datsun in there?

"There is no talk about this for Australia. None at all.

"In any case, Australia is a mature market, not a developing one."

The Datsun plan comes as more and more makers develop two-tier sales strategies for a range of countries as diverse as Turkey and Indonesia. It allows them to spread their development and production costs without eroding the power - and price potential - of existing mainstream badges.

Renault, which is part of the Nissan-Renault alliance, uses the Dacia brand for its cheapies and Suzuki uses Maruti in India. Toyota Australia tried for a while to push Daihatsu into the bottom end of the car business, but retreated when the cars could not be sold cheaply enough in Australia.

Datsun was the flagship brand for its Nissan parent company for more than 30 years, although the first cars actually arrived down under in the 1930s. After success with the 1600 and 240Z, but then failures with everything from the 200B to 120Y, the badge was phased-out globally in the early 1980s.

In Australia, cars were sold first with Datsun badges, then Datsun-Nissan, then Nissan-Datsun and finally just Nissan at a time when the Pulsar was the brand's local champion.

The origins of the Datsun name go back to Kenjiro Den, Rokuro Aoyama and Meitaro Takeuchi, who built a car around 1914 and combined their initials to call it the Dat. In 1931, an all-new car was produced and badged the Datsun as the son of Dat.