It's a new era for Nissan Motor. And it's being driven by a very small yet focussed team within the Japanese car maker. Nissan had announced in March 2012 that it would revive the Datsun brand to cater to a new kind of customer, who is emerging as very crucial to future sales growth in markets like India, Russia, Indonesia and South Africa.
Western Europe, USA and Japan accounted for two thirds of global car sales of approximately 50 million units in 2010. The expectation is that new markets will account for two-thirds by 2020, when the global market is expected to breach 100 million units/year; this growth will be led by the increasing depth and strength of the global middle class in emerging markets.
Nissan itself has its roots in the Datsun brand, but that is not necessarily why it was picked. Nissan felt it is important to have a seperate brand, since the customer comes from a very optimistic middle class who is very demanding, who wants something that he or she an identify with today, and then aspire to a brand like Nissan tomorrow.
Datsun will also focus on locally relevant products in each of its markets. This means not just very high levels of local production, but also unique attributes that are locally relevant. So unlike current entry level cars in India that are global models, Datsun will provide India-specific models.
The company is developing five models for launch across its three key markets - Indonesia, Russia and India. South Africa will be the fourth market, which will get the cars a few months after the initial introduction.
In India, Russia and Indonesia, the company will launch two cars in the first two years, and a third model in the subsequent year. These won't be the same products, since all the cars launched would be specific to its own market.
Modernity will be the key product differentiator in India. So, India-specific models would focus on the sub-Rs 4 lakh segments currently dominated by the Maruti Suzuki Alto, besides others like Hyundai Eon, Chevrolet Spark and even the Tata Nano.
Datsun will target the bottom 50 per cent of the Indian car market, and so won't go very premium in cost terms, but it will cater to various segments and body styles in is car lineup.
In India, first-time car buyers are expected to continue to be the larger driver of car sales (over those who replace existing cars) for some years to come. And a larger number of those will be near the entry levels of the car market. So, Datsun is hoping to snare that customer.
Its cars will be produced at the Renault-Nissan Alliance plant outside Chennai. Datsun will sell is products through the existing Nissan-Hover retail channel, by using a showroom-within a showroom concept. Subsequently though, the Datsun brand will see its own dealership network being established across India.
Datsun will reveal its first product globally in mid-2013. This will be a car targetted at the Indian buyer. The market launch of the car will only be at the start of 2014.
NDTV is the only global TV network invited to be privy to the development of the products and strategy for Datsun. We will bring you regular updates on this process here on NDTV.com and also on the NDTV network through CNB (The Car & Bike Show).