Datsun’s Coming Back, As a $3000 Car

Remember Datsun?   It’s about to make a comeback, says the president of Nissan, Carlos Ghosn. Raised in Brazil and Lebanon, he remembers the societies he grew up in, where everybody didn’t have a car. Heck, he didn’t get his first car til turned 18. A story in the WSJ yesterday revealed a big new plan for an ultra cheap new car for developing markets that will sell for $3000.

Ghosn’s big on these big ideas–and like many auto executives, he’s turning his sites on these big emerging markets where growth is easier to find than in the recession wracked markets of Japan, Europe and the US. One of his other big ideas so far has been a bust–the battery powered Leaf has seen very low sales, because of a lack of charging stations.

Ghosn’s new Datsun, which will hit African and Asian markets in 2014, is as barebones as it can be. Here’s what you get for $3000: Manual windows. Two cylinder engine. Only one airbag. Manual transmission. Non-reclining seats. No anti-lock brakes. Thin plastic panels that make it pretty loud.

The decision by Nissan to eliminate the Datsun name in the early ’80s was considered on of the all-time marketing blunders. It was the 2nd best selling import and the name change caused widespread confusion. There have been others like Tata motors who have tried the ultra cheap car route. This will either be Ghosn’s second big blunder, or the savior of the car-hungry Third World.