Datsun Returns, and Some Ask Why

1983 Datsun Sentra

Nissan announced this week that it was reviving the Datsun brand to represent the company in developing markets—namely India, Indonesia and Russia—beginning in 2014. Datsun cars became Nissans in 1981-’82.

The company plans to put $400 million into modernizing its Indonesia facility and tripling its dealerships in Southeast Asia. This lucrative market has been dominated by Toyota and is growing rapidly. One report predicts auto sales in Indonesia will rise by 50 percent in five years.

For those in the U.S., memories of Datsun cars can encompass everything from the 1982 Sentra pictured above (one of which was owned by my son, who says it was the absolute worst-handling car he ever drove) to the 240Z280Z cars that were loved by many.

So Nissan will recreate Datsun as a low-end brand to capture some of the burgeoning minicar-subcompact market in developing countries. The question is why did they resurrect the old name?

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