Early last week, a report from Reuters said that Nissan is considering giving the Datsun brand the ax. The reasoning based on the two unnamed sources is that the move is supposedly part of a wider "performance recovery plan" that hasn't been disseminated to the public.
We spoke with a very senior Nissan executive to confirm, but the answer wan't what we expected.
"We are not axing the brand. We are continuing as is for now," said our source. "The sales have slowed so there is speculation in [the] media," continued our contact. "However as the new management comes in, they will set the direction."
The Datsun brand is a very promising one, but sales didn't take off as well as many had anticipated in Indonesia where it was originally marketed. By our own assessment, Datsun would have been an interesting fit for thr Philippines too given their entry level target market, but efforts to offer the brand were not seriously pursued for our market.
Judging by the Reuters report, such a plan would have been part of a larger initiative to create a clean break from the policies and targets put forth by ousted and publicly disgraced Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn. The ripple effects of the scandal are still very much felt by the automaker given how their profits were almost completely wiped out during the last briefing held by then-CEO Hiroto Saikawa, who has likewise departed the company.
Now Nissan has elected a new management team being led by new CEO Makoto Uchida who was the head of Nissan China and was also an executive of Mitsubishi Motors and even spent a stint in the Philippines. The priority of the new management has to be about pulling Nissan back up, and an underperforming brand is a logical target.
It will be interesting how CEO Uchida's and the new management "trinity" he leads can get the brand to recover its momentum, but with a very interesting range of current as well as upcoming products on the way, we don't think they have their work cut out for them.