Gurgaon: Announcing the global relaunch of its Datsun brand, Japanese auto major Nissan today unveiled its hatchback 'Datsun Go' with plans to launch a total of three models under the range by 2016, which will all be priced less than Rs 4 lakh.
The company, which is reviving the brand after nearly three decades of discontinuing the marque, said 'Datsun Go' will be available in the Indian market from early next year and it is expecting 50 per cent of its sales in India to come from the Datsun brand.
"Today we begin a new chapter in the history of Nissan. Datsun is back... The car will go on sales early next year in India, followed by Indonesia, Russia and South Africa," Nissan Motor Co President and CEO Carlos Ghosn said here.
He said the launch of the Datsun brand in India is part of the company's strategy to increase sales from emerging markets.
"We have a market share of little over 1.2 per cent in India at present. We are looking to take it to 10 per cent in the mid term (2016). We expect Datsun to play a significant role in this," Ghosn added. The Indian car market had crossed the 3 million mark in 2011 and is expected to touch 4 million by 2016, he added.
While he didn't share the exact price of the car, Ghosn said it will be priced less than Rs 4 lakh.
Commenting on the expectations of the Datsun brand in India, Nissan Motor Co Programme Director Datsun Business Unit Ashwani Gupta said: "By 2016, half of the volumes of Nissan in India will be from Datsun and globally, in Indonesia and Russia it will be one-third to half."
When asked if the company will offer bigger products under the Datsun brand, he said the core of the brand's future products in India will be priced below Rs 4 lakh.
"After the launch of Datsun Go in early 2014, the second model will follow later in the year and another third product before 2016," Gupta said.
The Datsun Go and other models from the range will compete with the likes of Maruti Alto and Hyundai Eon and Chevrolet Spark from General Motors.
On the sales and service part, Nissan Motor Co Corporate Vice-President, Datsun Business Unit, Vincent Cobee said: "We will look to work with our existing partners but Nissan and Datsun will have distinct front-end retail environment."
Nissan is looking to set up around 300 showrooms for the Datsun brand in India by 2016.
Ghosn said the Datsun Go is powered by a 1.2 litre petrol engine and has been "fully engineered in India", adding it will be manufactured at the Renault Nissan plant in Chennai.
"It is a made in India car for the Indian market," Cobee said, adding it would be the first of several models that will be launched later in 2014 in Indonesia, Russia and South Africa.
When asked if Datsun would also be exported from India, Cobee said some amount could be exported to South Africa while "there will be pooling of assets" in Indonesia as the market is somewhat similar with India but not with Russia.
Nissan is resurrecting the Datsun brand after it had phased it out in 1986. The brand was being sold in 190 countries.
In 2012, Nissan had announced plans to launch two products from the Datsun brand in India by FY14.
The global launch of Datsun in India underlines Renault-Nissan alliance's aim to tap the potential of the country's small car market.
The alliance had earlier proposed to partner Bajaj Auto for a USD 2,500 low cost car but it did not work out.
"We have already announced that we would not be ready to collaborate with Bajaj for the ultra low cost car project. Having said that, we keep our options open for partnerships," Cobee said.
Nissan, which plans to introduce 51 new models by 2015-16 globally, is expected to introduce 10 models in India by 2016, including the first Datsun branded model in 27 years.
It is also looking to fully utilise the production capacity of the Chennai plant set up with alliance partner Renault to 100 per cent by 2016.
Cobee said the plant has a total capacity of 4 lakh units and the output from the plant was nearly 2 lakh units in 2012.
When asked if the company planned to invest more in the plant to expand the capacity, he said the company would consider about it after achieving 100 per cent capacity utilisation.
The company is targeting to have 60 per cent of its total global sales to come from emerging markets by FY'16 as compared to just 40 per cent in FY07.
Nissan and its alliance partner Renault have jointly invested Rs 4,500 crore at the Chennai plant which produces models from both the companies.