In 2013, Nissan was the sixth largest automaker in the world, after Toyota, General Motors, Volkswagen Group, Hyundai Motor Group, and Ford. Taken together, the Renault–Nissan Alliance would be the world’s fourth largest. In 1914, the Kwaishinsha Motorcar Works established three years earlier in Tokyo, built the first Nissan cars (formerly called Datsun cars). DAT Motors built trucks in addition to the DAT and Datsun passenger cars.
In fact, the vast majority of their output was trucks, as there was almost no consumer market for cars at the time. Beginning in 1918, the first DAT trucks were produced for the military market. It was the low demand of the military market in the 1920s that forced DAT to merge in 1926 with Japan's 2nd most successful truck maker, Jitsuyo Motors.
In 1931, DAT came out with a new smaller car, the first "Datson", meaning "Son of DAT". Later in 1933 after Nissan took control of DAT Motors, the last syllable of Datson was changed to "sun", because "son" also means "loss"
Nissan would eventually grow to include 74 firms, and to be the fourth-largest combine in Japan during World War II.
1931 was the beginning of Nissan's automobile manufacturing. In 1934 the company formally became Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
Nissan built trucks, airplanes, and engines for the Japanese military. The company's main plant was moved to China after it was was captured by Japan. The plant made machinery for the Japanese war effort until it was captured by American and Russian forces.
Nissan later on partnered with an established European company to gain access to automobile and engine designs. Nissan chose Austin of the United Kingdom, which later became the British Motor Corporation by its merger with Morris et al. Nissan began building Austin 7s in 1930 which helped prop up their production of Nissan cars.
Later, in 1952 Nissan Motor Company of Japan entered into a well-documented legal agreement with Austin , for Nissan to assemble 2,000 Austins from imported partially assembled sets and sell these Nissan cars in Japan under the Austin trademark. Nissan produced and marketed Austins for seven years. The agreement also gave Nissan rights to use Austin patents, which Nissan used in developing its own engines for its Datsun line of cars. In 1953 British-built Austins were assembled and sold, but by 1955, the Austin A50 -- completely built by Nissan and featuring a slightly larger body with new 1489 cc engine -- was on the market in Japan. Nissan produced 20,855 Austins from 1953-1959.
Nissan leveraged the Austin patents to further develop their own modern engine designs past what the Austin's A- and B-family designs offered. The best of the Austin-derived engines was the new design A series engine in 1967. Also in 1967 Nissan introduced its new highly advanced four cylinder overhead cam (OHC) Nissan L engine, which while similar to Mercedes-Benz OHC designs was a totally new engine designed by Nissan. This engine powered the new Datsun 510, and these Nissan cars helped gained Nissan respect in the worldwide sedan market. Then, in 1970 Nissan introduced the Datsun 240Z sports car which used a six-cylinder variation of the L series engine. The 240Z was an immediate sensation and these Nissan cars lifted the company to world class status in the automobile market.
Nissan Cars Went Global in Status
In 1966, Nissan merged with the Prince Motor Company, bringing into its range more upmarket cars, including the Skyline and Gloria. The Prince name was eventually abandoned, with successive Skylines and Glorias bearing the Nissan name - however, "Prince" is still used in names of certain Nissan dealers in Japan. Nissan introduced a new luxury brand for the US market in the early 1990s and called these Nissan cars Infiniti.
In the 1950s, Nissan made a conscious decision to expand into worldwide markets. Nissan management realized their Datsun small car line would fill an unmet need in markets such as Australia and the the world's largest car market, the United States. In 1958 they first showed Nissan cars at the 1959 Los Angeles auto show, and sold a few cars that year in the United States. The company formed a U.S. subsidiary, Nissan Motor Corporation in U.S.A. in 1959. By continually improving their sedans and adding sporty cars such as the Datsun Fairlady roadsters, the sporty and race-winning 411 series, the Datsun 510 and the world-class Datsun 240Z sports car by 1970 Nissan had became one of the world's largest exporters of automobiles.
Until 1982, Nissan automobiles in most export markets were sold under the Datsun brand. Since 1989, Nissan has sold its luxury models in North America under the Infiniti brand.
In the wake of the 1973 oil crisis, consumers worldwide (especially in the lucrative U.S. market) began turning in rapidly increasing numbers to high-quality small economy cars. Nissan made a conscious decision for their growing economy car lines to have a "sporting" flavor. The company manufactured Nissan cars in factories in Mexico and Australia, Taiwan and South Africa.
The firm established assembly operations in the United States in the early 1980s. This facility at first built only trucks and SUVs, such as the 720, Hardbody, and Pathfinder, but has since been expanded to produce Nissan cars at several car lines. Two more assembly plants followed suit.
In order to overcome export tariffs and delivery costs to its European customers Nissan established a plants in Sunderland, United Kingdom which became the most productive plant in Europe, projecting production of 40,000 Nissan automobiles vehicles per year by 2007. But financial difficulties (approaching billions) in Australia in the late 1980s caused Nissan to cease production there.
With Nissan facing severe financial difficulties, Nissan entered an alliance with Renault S.A. of France. Signed on March 27, 1999, the Renault-Nissan Alliance is the first of its kind involving a Japanese and a French company, each with its own distinct corporate culture and brand identity. The same year, Renault appointed its own Chief Operating Officer, Carlos Ghosn as Chief Operating Officer of Nissan and took a 22.5% stake in Nissan Diesel. Later that year, Nissan fired its top Japanese executives.
The Renault-Nissan Alliance is a unique group of two global companies linked by cross-shareholding, with Renault holding 44.3% of Nissan shares, while Nissan holds 15% of Renault shares.
Under president Ghosn's "Nissan Revival Plan" (NRP), the company has rebounded in what many leading economists consider to be one of the most spectacular corporate turnarounds in history, catapulting Nissan to record profits and a dramatic revitalization of both its Nissan and Infiniti model line-ups. Despite the turnaround, Infiniti sales have been a disappointment. In 2001, the company initiated Nissan 180, capitalizing on the success of the NRP. The targets set with 180 were an additional sale of 1 million Nissan cars, achieving operating margins of 8%, and to have zero automotive debts. Ghosn has been recognized in Japan for the company's turnaround in the midst of an ailing Japanese economy.
Nissan also produces Nissan cars at its factory at Roslyn, near Pretoria, South Africa.
The company's head office is now in Tokyo but will move back to Yokohama in 2009. Nissan North America relocated its headquarters from Gardena, California to Nashville, Tennessee in July 2006. A new headquarters is being built in Franklin, Tennessee, due to be complete in the summer of 2008.
Nissan has produced an extensive range of mainstream Nissan cars and trucks, initially for domestic consumption but exported around the world since the 1950s.
It also produced several memorable sports cars, including the Datsun Fairlady 1500, 1600 and 2000 Roadsters, the Z-car, an affordable sports car originally introduced in 1969; and the Skyline GT-R, a powerful all-wheel-drive sports coupe.
The recently launched mid-sized Nissan Navara truck has 175 bhp.
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