Nissan is set to introduce the first Datsun brand model in Indonesia in 2014. There will be three models on offer. The first two models will be introduced in 2014 while a third model will be added in 2015.
In an interview with Automotive News Europe, Nissan's Executive Vice-President for Africa, Middle East, India & Europe Colin Dodge revealed “Datsuns will be built off the new Lada Kalina platform.”
Datsun models are aimed at emerging markets, namely Indonesia, India and Russia, but sales in developed markets have not been ruled out completely.
Lada is Russia's largest car brand and is owned by Russian manufacturer AvtoVAZ, which is in turn partially owned by Renault-Nissan. AvtoVAZ was an ailing Russian manufacturer, rescued by Renault in 2008 with an injection of USD 366 million.
Earlier this month, the Renault-Nissan Alliance and Russian Technologies State Corporation announced the creation of new joint venture company, Alliance Rostec Auto BV. According to the terms of the deal, Renault-Nissan will invest USD 742 million. The investment will give Renault-Nissan 67.13 percent of the joint venture by mid-2014. The joint venture will then hold 74.5 percent of AvtoVAZ.
In Russia, the Datsun models will be produced in AvtoVAZ's plant in Togliatti, Russia, which also produces the Almera sedan. Note that the Russian Almera is unrelated to a model with the same name sold in ASEAN region. Instead, the Russian Almera is what local readers will recognize as the Sylphy.
While the 21st century Datsun will have underpinnings from a Lada, sharing some basic mechanical parts like steering, braking and fuel systems, Dodge stressed that there will be sufficient differentiation from a Lada.
"The upper body and interior will be completely different, You won’t notice it as a Lada," said Dodge.
While the first Datsun will be arrive in Indonesian showrooms in 2014, a report by the Hindu Business Line from India says the Nissan will preview the Datsun model as early as July 2013.
The Indian daily also added that a seven seater MPV, similar to a Suzuki Ertiga, will be among the three Datsun models to be launched between 2014 and 2015.
The current model Lada Kalina is offered in Russia in three body types - hatchback, sedan and estate.
It was reported in a local English daily quoting market analysts from an investment bank that the Datsun brand will be coming to Malaysia in 2014, however Cars, Bikes and Trucks can confirm that Nissan has no plans to introduce the Datsun brand into Malaysia, at least not in the near term.
Datsun models are aimed at markets that are in early stages of motorization, appealing mostly to first generation car owners. Malaysia's motorization is already relatively mature, with replacement and additional car buyers rather than first time car buyers making a bulk of new car purchases.
A low cost Datsun model is unlikely to meet expectations of Malaysian car buyers. Afterall, Perodua sells more Myvi than their entry level Viva. Even Viva buyers expect their cars to come with power windows all around and a basic audio unit, features which are likely to be omitted in a low cost car.