17. July 2013
I learned how to drive with a manual transmission many years ago on my brother’s Datsun 510. He lived on Oahu. There were plenty of Datsuns and Toyotas and Hondas rolling around the streets of Kailua back then. I stalled it more than once on hills in front of those cars. A few years later I went on to own a Datsun 310. With a manual. It is not one of the more memorable cars that I owned.
The point is, I have some history with “Datsun.” So I wonder about the apparent excitement at Nissan this past Monday, when the Datsun name was affixed to the GO in Delhi, India.
Carlos Ghosn: Nissan Motor president and CEO: “This is an historic day for Nissan Motor Company and for our customers and partners in some of the world’s fastest-grown markets. It’s also an exciting moment for many women and men here in India here in India who—today—come one step closer to realizing the dream of purchasing a car.”
The GO is “attractively priced below INR 400,000.” That’s about $6,678 U.S. or €5,119.
It is a five-door, front-wheel drive hatch with a 1.2-liter engine and five speed manual transmission. Which is probably quite close to that 310 in many ways.
The car was designed by Nissan at its global design center in Japan. Engineering was done by “local engineering resources and suppliers.” It is to be built at a Renault-Nissan Alliance plant in Chennai, India, which has an annual capacity of 400,000 units.
The name of the car, the GO, goes back to the first Datsun, the DAT-GO.
Apparently, DAT signifies “lightening fast” in Japanese. The car probably isn’t that by any stretch of the imagination. The letters D, A, T also stand for the names of the financiers who were being the car company back in 1914, Den, Aoyama, and Takeuchi, and it was subsequently used to stand for Durable, Attractive and Trustworthy.
Then in 1933 Nissan founder Yohisuke Aikawa took over the business and named the company for the DAT, but as the son-of-DAT, later Datsun.
I didn’t know anything about that back-story until the reveal of the 21st century GO. This even though I’d had a history with the brand.
But it leads me to wonder whether the people in India—or those in Indonesia, Russia, and South Africa, the other markets where Datsun models will be launched—have even heard of Datsun, period. What’s more, wouldn’t they, having access to communications resources, be it magazines, movies or the ‘Net, recognize names like “Nissan” and “Infiniti” but. . . “Datsun”?
Carlos Ghosn is a clever man. With the resurrection of the Datsun brand, he may be too clever for his own good.