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World: Datsun, now Autobianchi to be revived as low-cost brands

Autobianchi Logo. Picture courtesy of cartype.comWe could see Autobianchi return as early as 2014!

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With the progression of Chinese carmakers worldwide, the rise and rise of low-cost brands following the tremendous success of Dacia over the last decade is one of the most fascinating mega-trends in the car industry at the moment. For example, my worldwide January roundup stressed the fact that Renault is only keeping afloat worldwide due to the success of its Dacia models, and monthly Chinese rankings show both low-cost brands Baojun and Venucia are making their mark.

Autobianchi Siena. Picture courtesy of Autobild.deAutobianchi Siena?

Last week, German website Autobild announced that Fiat could revive Autobianchi as its low-cost brand. For a while Innocenti was whispered around but it now seems like Autobianchi is the go. Created in 1955, Autobianchi was always priced higher than equivalent Fiat models and was used to test innovative concepts which later found their way into mainstream Fiat vehicles. Guess that will have to change now! The brand was integrated into Lancia in 1989 but survived in Italy until 1995 when production of the Y10 stopped. More on the Autobianchi brand here.

1977 Autobianchi A112 Abarth1977 Autobianchi A112 Abarth

According to Autobild, the first Autobianchi model would be built in Poland and Russia and based on the Brazilian Fiat Siena, itself built on the previous generation Fiat Palio’s platform. It will be a notchback sedan targeted at Eastern European markets to go full frontal against the Dacia Logan, with prices starting at 5,000 Euros. Autobild says if these plans come to fruition we could see the first low-cost Autobianchi cars hitting the road in late 2014, which is not so far off!

2013 Datsun grille2013 Datsun grille

These news come as Nissan has confirmed they are reviving the Datsun brand as their low-cost option, to be officially launched later this year. Plans are now getting more precise: in addition to India, Indonesia and Russia which were announced last year, in February South Africa was confirmed as the 4th market where the Datsun brand will be revived.

Datsun notchback sedan. Picture courtesy of Autobild.deThe first low-cost Datsun?

As far as Russia is concerned, last week Nissan Russia CEO Francois Goupil de Bouille announced that “the first Datsun cars will roll in Russian cities in March 2014”, with plans to sell 100,000 Datsuns annually in Russia by 2016. There will be two Russian Datsun models to start with: a notchback sedan based on the Lada Kalina and Granta platforms and a hatchback model based on the previous generation Nissan Note.

Click on ‘Read more’ below for more details on Datsun’s return.

Datsun 240Z. Picture courtesy of modified.com1968 Datsun 240Z

As is the norm, everything the consumer can’t see will be shared but the visible parts of the car will be very different. A third model is in the works for a 2015 launch. Thanks to the Renault-Nissan alliance, Datsun will benefit from 10 years of experience from Renault with the Dacia brand, which should help it greatly avoiding the traps involved in making a low-cost brand successful.

1980 Datsun Sunny1980 Datsun Sunny

The Datsun brand originally launched in Japan in 1932 and was first imported in the United States in 1958, where it soon became very successful, passing the 100,000 sales mark there in 1963. In 1968 the legendary 240Z sports coupe was launched and became the world’s best-selling sports car soon after. The completion of a process started in 1981, Nissan phased out the Datsun brand in March 1986 when all Datsun models were renamed Nissan. More on the Datsun brand here.

1984 Autobianchi A1121984 Autobianchi A112

The Autobianchi A112 holds a special spot in my heart as its death in 1986 coincided with the birth of my passion for cars, aged 8… I remember proudly managing to get the brochure from the dealership, pretending it was for my Dad and knowing full well there wouldn’t be any left the following year!

Autobianchi logo. Picture courtesy of autobianchi.orgAutobianchi logo

1979 Autobianchi A1121979 Autobianchi A112

This Post Has 21 Comments
  1. I think it would be good if Datsun was re-introduced in Western Europe, I believe that many people would rather buy new than used and I am sure that is why many people buy Dacias, the cheapest Sandero is £5,995 in the UK compared to the cheapest Clio and comparable superminis which start at about £10,000 (before a discount), admittedly the Dacia does not have much standard equipment and you won’t get a discount, but spend an extra £250 you can get a radio/cd, so for £6,250 you get an ideal car for commuting to work, shopping etc., I think if more budget brands like Datsun, Autobianchi and even Lada came to Western Europe new car sales would probably increase, Just my thoughts, I could be horribly wrong, I feel if we had a choice of more reasonably priced cars, the mainstream manufacurers would have to look at their pricing, which is already happening, there are some good deals around, substantial discounts are available, which is good news for the customer. Sorry went on too long.

  2. coolcat :@max The problem with Toyota is they are constantly recalling cars due to quality issues, the cars either cannot stop, cannot go or can catch fire, and now airbag problems. Why people buy such garbage as Toyotas is beyond me. In the UK, only pensioners buy them.

    Actually Toyota is no. 1 worldwide … 😉

  3. Steam :We will see, if Datsun will be introduced into the european market later on.

    Hm, I’m not sure. Wouldn’t that cannibalize Dacia? Which, in turn, is already cannibalizing Renault… *confusing*

  4. @max
    The problem with Toyota is they are constantly recalling cars due to quality issues, the cars either cannot stop, cannot go or can catch fire, and now airbag problems. Why people buy such garbage as Toyotas is beyond me. In the UK, only pensioners buy them.

  5. Volkswagen own the rights to the Auto Union and DKW brands, maybe one of those could be revived for a low cost brand. Dacia was only launched in the UK and Ireland in January and for an unknown brand they are doing well (especially in Ireland), which proves that people like a good product at a good price.

  6. VW also is creating a low-cost-brand. Peugeot is launching the 301 in many markets and might be offering more cheap models in the future. Sometimes magazins report about a comeback of Talbot in the PSA-group. Renault has Dacia (and Lada), Fiat is introducing Autiobianchi, Nissan is on the way with Datsun. So the tendency is obvious.

    No matter if we like this or not: There is a growing number of clients asking for cheap reliable cars.

  7. max :Dacia is a piece of garbage aniway, in Italy they’re loosing market share.

    Which Italy are we talking about? The same Italy where, on march 2013, Dacia is scoring +8%? Or the Italy where, year end 2012, Dacia increased 1% against 2011 and where only 6 brands (Hyundai, Kia, Dacia, Land Rover, Lada and Mahindra) did not post catastrophic double-digit losses?
    You may or may not like Dacia, but you should check your figures before releasing such interesting statements.

  8. max :I don’t think that low cost is the future: Dacia is not doing well in Europe cuz with crisis, low cost or not people doesn’t have money anyway

    So, Dacia is one of the 15 out of 64 brands in Europe who didn’t lose sales in 2012 vs 2011 (see the Europe Full Year 2012 ranking), it is currently #17 while 10 years ago was basically unknown, and “it is not doing well in Europe”?
    This has got to be one of the most interesting analysis I have read here.

  9. I don’t think that low cost is the future: Dacia is not doing well in Europe cuz with crisis, low cost or not people doesn’t have money anyway, btw the duster is not so cheap when you get it with some necessary optionals. And Toyota? A low cost is not but it’s a big hit worldwide cuz people,first of all, buy car that offer a great value for money, outstandong reliability and nice styling (see the last Corolla/Auris,RAV4 and GT86/FR-S/BRZ. I will never buy a chinese car considering the fact that it doesn’t worth neither a rim of japanese car: Unsafe, not reliable, not technologically advanced and neither so convenient, see what happened with the Tata Nano: Too cheap and the sales are falling down month by month. The next Citroen will be more simple and cheap cuz the management is about to put more distance between Citroen and the DS brand but as they said: Citroen will never be a low cost brand.

  10. autobianchi a 112 was a great car… dad had the 70 hp abarth that was fast and very convenient for city traffic… i saw many of them in Paris too very popular in France too 🙂

  11. I predict great success for Autobianchi. Also I expect few more models, except from Siena that will be available in the Eastern Europe and Asia. Good luck Fiat.

  12. I thought about it some time ago that Fiat should definitely revive Autobianchi or Innocenti and start selling their brasilian models like Uno, Siena or Palio under these brands. These cars look very decent and with some appropriate pricing policy they could outsell Dacias. Shame that Datsun isn’t headed for Europe, but it’s obvious that it would cannibalise the sales of the Romanian brand…

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