Datsun is one of Japan's automobile brands owned by Nissan. Before the takeover by Nissan, the production of cars under its own brand Datsun began in 1931. In 1986, Nissan stopped producing Datsun cars, but re-launched it in 2013 as a brand for cheap cars made for emerging markets.
Origin of Datsun
Even before the Datsun brand in 1914, the DAT was launched by Kaishinsha Motorcar Works in Tokyo. The name of the new car was an abbreviation of the names of the following partners of the company:
Den Kenjiro - D (田健)
Aoyama Rokuro - A (青山 禄)
Takeuchi Meitaro - T (竹 内 明 太郎)
Kaishinsha Motorcar Works was renamed in 1918, seven years after their establishment, into Kaishinsha Motorcar Co. In 1925, the company was again renamed DAT Motorcar Co. The production of the company was focused on trucks, as there was almost no consumer market for cars at that time. Starting in 1918, the first DAT trucks were assembled for military purposes. Low demand in the military market during the 1920s forced DAT to consider merging with other automotive firms.
In 1926, Tokyo-based DAT Motors merged with Jitsuyo Jidosha Co., located in Osako and also known as Jitsuyo Motors (established in 1919 as a subsidiary of Kubota). In Osaka, in 1920, Jitsuyo Jidosha began producing a three-wheeled car with a closed Gorham cab, and the next year produced a four-wheeled version. From 1923 to 1925, the company produced cars and trucks under the name Lila.
In 1930, the Japanese government issued a decree allowing to drive cars with an engine capacity of up to 500 cm³ without a driver’s license. DAT Jidosha Seizo Co., Ltd. started developing a series of machines with an engine displacement of 495 cm³ to occupy a new market segment, calling the new small cars “Datson” - which means “Son DAT”.
In 1931, DAT Jidosha Seizo Co., Ltd. became a subsidiary of Tobata Casting Co., Ltd. By this time, the first cars with 495 cm³ engines were assembled. The first series of cars was called Datson Type 10, and approximately ten of these cars were sold in 1931. In 1932, they sold about 150 cars, calling the model Datson Type 11. In 1933, the Japanese government issued a new regulation allowing to drive a car with an engine up to 750 cm³ without a driver’s license. Datsun has increased the volume of its engines to the maximum allowable. These big cars were called Type 12.
In 1934, the company name was changed to Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. When Nissan took control of the DAT, the name "Datson" was changed to "Datsun" because "son" also means "loss" from Japanese 損, as well as in honor of the sun, which is shown on the national flag.
By 1935, the company had created a real production line following the example of Henry Ford, and produced a car very similar to the Austin 7. There is evidence that six of these early Datsun cars were exported to New Zealand in 1936.