Birth of the Datsun and origin of the brand name..
The company that created the DAT (or DAT Motor Vehicle), which is where the name “Datsun” came from, was Kwaishinsha Jidosha Kojo, founded in 1911 by M. Hashimoto. His dream was to make cars that were suited to Japan and, if possible, export them. In 1914, when he completed work on a small 2-cylinder 10-horsepower car, he borrowed the initial letters of the surnames of his three investors (K. Den, R. Aoyama, and M. Takeuchi) and gave the name “DAT” to his new car.
Later Kwaishinsha merged with the Jitsuyo Jidosha Co., Ltd. to form the Dat Jidosha Seizo Co. It went on to produce military vehicles, but in 1931 the company developed a new passenger car (500cc, 10ps), which embodied the DAT spirit. It was, however, more compact than the original DAT, so it was called DATSON – in the sense of “Son of DAT”. In Japanese, though, son is the word for “loss” so instead it was changed to “SUN”, which has brighter associations, when the car went on sale in March 1932. The Datsun. Great and new.
Question is, why did the brand ever die? Back in the 1960s and ’70s, the Datsun cars and trucks were a global favorite—especially in America when gas prices soared following the Arab oil embargo of 1973. The Datsun was consistently one of two top-selling Japanese brands in the U.S.
It all goes back to the Datsun name. Nissan Motor, established in 1933, was a reorganized version of a company called DAT Automobile. The earlier company’s name was based on the first letters of the surnames of three investors: Den, Aoyama, and Takeuchi. DAT in 1931 released a two-seater called the “Son of DAT,” or Datson. The suffix was soon changed to “sun,” because “the rise of imperialism in Japan brought a lot of focus on the sun—land of the rising sun, the naval ensign was the sun,” says Hall. An alternate theory, which has been disputed, is that the word “son” in Japanese implies losing money.
For decades, Nissan continued using the Datsun brand everywhere but in Japan. Then, in 1981, the company resolved to rebrand all Datsuns as Nissans, as part of a global strategy to strengthen the company name. It proved to be a disaster. The Datsun signs came down, Nissan signs went up, and all the cars became Nissans.
Now back to the revival of the Datsun brand. The move is part of Nissan’s strategy to sell lower-cost cars without devaluing the company’s luxury Infiniti brand. Rather than pull Nissan down, they’re adding an entry-level brand, and it’s a heritage brand!