Nissan India, along with its French alliance partner Renault, is now no longer a partner of the ultra low cost(ULC) car project, conceived by Bajaj-Renault and Nissan. The car based on the ULC project, which was jump started as an answer to the Tata Nano, priced at $2,500, might never see the light of the day. What however will see the light of the day is a low cost Datsun small car, which Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, says will be priced at US $ 3,000 or INR 1.6 lakhs. This will make the Datsun small car one of the least priced car in the world, slightly above the Tata Nano’s base price of about 1.4 lakhs, which is about $500 higher than the price at which it first went on sale.
To achieve this ultra low price tag, the Datsun small car will be shorn of safety features like airbags, which aren’t offered on entry level small cars in India like the Tata Nano and the Maruti Alto anyway. Also, automatic transmissions that add to the cost of a car won’t be used on Datsuns. Instead, Datsun cars will come with manual transmission as standard, as is the case anyway with entry level cars in India and other parts of the developing world. Nissan will source parts locally to keep costs down to the bare minimum.
Given that India has a solid vendor base who supply parts to car makers like Maruti Suzuki and Tata Motors, two brands which make the least priced cars in the world, Nissan could actually wind up using the capabilities of these vendors to arrive at the $3,000 starting price for the entry level Datsun small car. The first Datsun car is expected to be launched in 2014, with a preview at that year’s Indian Auto Expo being likely. Datsun will follow this small car with another hatchback later that year for the Indian car market. At about the same time, Russia is expected to get a low cost sedan.
A sketch of a Datsun car from the 1980s
While another low cost hatchback will be built for the Indonesian market, the Datsun brand is also expected to spawn a low cost MPV in due course of time. Initially, Nissan will establish the Datsun brand in three countries, India, Indonesia and Russia. Apart from local sourcing of parts, Datsun cars will be produced locally to make use of the inexpensive, yet high quality labour available in these countries. The development work for the Datsun cars will be carried out by Nissan. Datsun cars are expected to be exported to developing countries in Africa and Latin America in the coming years.
I ride, I blog and I trip. This apart, motorcycles, vintage mechanical watches, people watching, camping and traveling are my other interests. Incidentally, I hold a engineering degree in electronics and work experience in computer networks and professional blogging. I live in Bangalore currently and you could get in touch with me at [email protected]