Nissan Motor CEO says Datsun brand to return to Nissan

JAKARTA Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:54pm IST

Nissan Motor Co. CEO Carlos Ghosn speaks at a news conference in Jakarta March 20, 2012. REUTERS/Enny Nuraheni/Files

Nissan Motor Co. CEO Carlos Ghosn speaks at a news conference in Jakarta March 20, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Enny Nuraheni/Files

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JAKARTA (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co's (7201.T) revived Datsun brand will target increasing sales in Indonesia, India and Russia, the firm's chief executive told reporters on Tuesday.

Nissan plans to invest $400 million in Indonesia over the next two years, will double hiring by 2014 and triple its dealerships in Southeast Asia's largest economy to 90,000, CEO Carlos Ghosn said during a visit to Jakarta.

Nissan quit using the Datsun brand in 1981, but earlier this month a newspaper announced plans to revive the nameplate for cars and trucks for emerging markets.

"It's a green car, affordable car, small displacement, high local content," Ghosn said of the Datsun. "It's going to be a generous car."

Nissan executives met Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Monday and said they would inject $400 million for plant expansions to double production by 2014.

Nissan appointed Kintaro Izumida as president director of PT Nissan Motor Indonesia (NMI) and PT Nissan Motor Distributor Indonesia, earlier this month, replacing Takayuki Kimura.

"The priority (for Nissan Motors in Indonesia) is for the Indonesian market," Ghosn said. "If there is any room for more capacity it will be located for the domestic (market) rather than for exports, although cost is competitive."

NMI had previously targeted sales of 60,000 units and sales growth of 7 percent, according to the company website, which also said it would open 70 dealerships by end of 2011.

NMI is the third best-selling brand in Indonesia and hopes to increase sales by launching a cheaper multipurpose vehicle (MPV) and city car suited specifically for its market.

The company's largest sales in Indonesia come from its popular family mini van Grand Livina, which accounts for 45 percent of sales. The city car lines, March and Juke, came second in line with 40 percent.

PT Indomobil Sukses Makmur (IMAS.JK), Nissan's authorised distributor in Indonesia, launched its crossover model, Nissan Juke in the first half of last year, and has sold 1,600 units per month since.

Nissan has been pushing rapidly into emerging markets, including a partnership with Ashok Leyland Ltd (ASOK.NS) in India and a recently announced factory in Brazil, where it aims to triple its market share by 2016.

Nissan and its French partner, Renault SA (RENA.PA), are also close to announcing a deal to increase the alliance's stake in Russia's AvtoVAZ (AVAZ.MM), the maker of Lada cars, to aid growth there.

A resurrection of Datsun would follow a growing trend to bring back heritage nameplates, including Toyota's 86, or "Hachi-roku" sports car, Chrysler's Dodge Dart and partner Fiat's (FIA.MI) 500.

(Reporting by Andjarsari Paramaditha, Editing by Michael Taylor and Jacqueline Wong)

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