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Nissan: From the brink of collapse to global giant

Getting started

Nissan officially started in 1911 when it was originally founded under the name Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works by Masujiro Hashimoto. Three years later, the company rolled out their first car, the DAT, an acronym of the three investing partners’ surnames. The Tokyo based company went through several name changes throughout the 1920s and it wasn’t until 1934 that Nissan Motor Company was used.

The name Nissan originated in Japan when founder Yoshisuke Aikawa became president of Nihon Sangyo in 1928. The Nissan Motor Company took over the Datsun company in 1933 and it would take on the name we all know today. Primarily dealing in foundries and auto parts, Nihon Sangyo debuted on the Tokyo Stock Exchange by its ticker name NISSAN in 1933. The Datsun Type 15 was the first mass-produced Japanese vehicle and was available as a phaeton, mini pickup and delivery van.

Nissan has demonstrated a commitment to innovation since the company’s founding in 1933. Nissan expanded beyond its Japanese roots from there and officially launched in the US as Datsun in 1958. 

Nissan produced its first cars at the flagship Nishi-Ku, Yokohama headquarters in 1935. Nissan showcased its first Datsuns (a 1,000 cc car and truck) at the 1959 Los Angeles Auto Show. To keep up with global demand, Nissan started production in Mexico in 1966. Production in Australia and Taiwan followed, with the first American factory opening in Smyrna, Tennessee, in 1983. The 1970 240Z became the best selling sports car in the world by offering quality and comfort at an affordable price. American sales started taking off and in 1975, Datsun had become the number 1 importer in the US. Nissan started expanding during the 80s to keep up with demands and opened up new factories. And just when everyone thought that Nissan couldn’t get any bigger, the company launched a new sub-brand, Infiniti, to cater to the more luxurious segment of the market. By 1989, Nissan hit a million cars built milestone in the US.

The Carlos Ghosn impact and strategic alliances

In the 1990s, the auto industry was undergoing a period of rapid consolidation. Numerous companies merged or were acquired in high-profile deals. Nissan at the time was veering off course after churning out boring, uninspiring family sedans and found itself $20 billion in debt. Brought to the brink of bankruptcy, the Japanese company joined hands with French carmaker Renault led by Carlos Ghosn. The French carmaker brought 36.8 percent of Nissan, giving birth to the Renault-Nissan alliance.

Carlos Ghosn promptly cut costs by closing down five loss-making factories and slashed Nissan’s wage bill by cutting 20,000 jobs. He changed the working culture inside the company and less than two years after joining Nissan, the company had earned a profit of nearly $3 billion, the most it had ever earned in a year.

In 2001, after the company’s turnaround from near-bankruptcy, Nissan bought a 15 percent stake in Renault, which in turn increased its stake in Nissan to 44.4 percent. Slowly the company started creating strategic management overseas areas such as corporate governance between the two companies to have a healthy relationship. Since 2010, the alliance has undertaken several projects as part of a strategic cooperation deal with the German Daimler AG company. In 2014, Renault and Nissan combined various research and development, manufacturing and business operations to increase money savings and accelerate development. 

In 2016, Mitsubishi joined the alliance and has worked with the German carmaker Daimler on projects like the Mercedes-Benz pickup truck and the production of compact cars. The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance alliance adopted its current name in September 2017, one year after Nissan acquired a controlling interest in Mitsubishi and subsequently made the company an equal partner in the alliance. The French-Japanese alliance now sells more than 1 in 9 vehicles worldwide. 

Nissan in popular culture

Nissan has made many iconic cars, which can be seen in many popular movies, Japanese comic books (manga) and games. 
Between 1969 and 1974, and again between 1989 and 2002, Nissan produced a high-performance version of its Skyline coupe called the Nissan Skyline GT-R. This car proved to be iconic for Nissan and achieved much fame and success on both road and track. The first Prince Skyline was introduced in 1957 and was available in Japan until 1961. The Skyline was available as either a four-door sedan or a five-door station wagon, and it featured a 1.5L GA-30 engine. It wasn’t until 1964 that the first racing GT Skyline was introduced, still under the Prince Motors flag. The Nissan GT-R is the successor to the Nissan Skyline GT-R and the still in-production model was used in Fast & Furious, Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6 and Furious 7.

In 2008, the GT-R finally and officially landed on American roads. Nissan dropped the Skyline name and added a twin-turbo V6 that put out 473 horsepower, propelling the GT-R to performance levels that could not only compete with but outclass legendary American muscle cars and German and Italian supercars. 
Overnight, the GT-R became a legend, with many calling it ‘Godzilla’. 

Its technologically advanced road-grabbing, all-wheel-drive provided exhilarating handling, and it was all wrapped up in a sleek, yet muscular, modern exterior design. 

This remarkable sports car demands inclusion among automotive legends. 

Nissan in Nepal

Back in 1986, Nissan was established in Nepal with Dugar Brother & Sons as the authorised distributor. In 2017, Pioneer Moto Corp became the sole authorised distributor for Nissan Motor according to Raj Kumar Dhakal, senior sales manager of Nissan Nepal.

The relationship between Nissan and the two dealers (Dugar Brother & Sons and Pioneer Moto Corp) has made it possible for an iconic brand to be made accessible in Nepal. The main showroom of Nissan is located in Thapathali, Kathmandu. Pioneer Moto Corp soon expanded by bringing Datsun cars in Nepal. 
Dhakal is confident that Nissan will lift the automotive industry in Nepal with their vehicles. According to him, Nissan sees everyone as a premium customer.

Talking about models of Nissan cars available in Nepal, currently, it offers seven models and its variants. These models include Sunny, Navara, X-Trail, Kicks, Patrol, Urban and Micra Active. 

According to the company, Nissan Kicks is their best selling car. Most of the cars that Nissan sells in Nepal are imported from India like the Kicks, Sunny and Micra. Some, like Patrol, X-Trail and Urban are imported directly from Japan while the Navara comes from Thailand.
The company revealed that they will be launching the all-electric Nissan Leaf in the first half of 2020.

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