Nissan on Monday announced the global relaunch of the Datsun by the unveiling of the hatchback model 'Datsun Go', priced at less than Rs 4 lakh. Reviving the brand after nearly three decades, Nissan chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn said the car will be available in the Indian market from early 2014.
Speaking to CNBC-TV18, Ghosn said, "Today we begin new chapter in the history of Nissan. The Datsun is back. The car will go on sales early next year in India, followed by Indonesia, Russia and South Africa".
Below is the edited transcript of the interview on CNBC-TV18
Q: Is Datsun your new ultra low-cost car?
A: No, the Datsun is not the new ultra low-cost car. Datsun is about reliability, modernity, affordability and high value. With the latest technology, the Datsun is about bringing back these values to high-growth markets such as India.
Q: Is there a future for the ultra low-cost car?
Q: So you are not giving up on that?
A: Not at all. You are going to see ultra-low-cost car coming. You are going to see cars coming at a lower price points and addressing different kind of markets. There is a huge demand for cars with high value and affordability.
Q: What gives you the confidence?
A: I was the first one to recognise the value of the Nano because it addressed a need that nobody had.
Q: But the car failed?
A: That is a different story. The car is the answer to the need and the need is still there. There is a potential for a car that can meet those needs and that is what we are pursuing.
Q: When you are going to launch a low-cost car?
A: Within the next two years.
Q: Will it be priced lower than the Datsun but higher than the Nano?
A: Exactly. That is exactly the specific price-point that we will be aiming at.
Q: Will Nissan launch the model in association with a domestic partner?
A: Let us first launch the Datsun. This is not the end of what we will launch in the high-growth markets. With a strong stable of models under the Datsun brand, we will then focus on our version of the ultra-low-cost car.
Q: Do you believe that you can continue your partnership with Bajaj Auto on the quadricycle?
A: We do not think that we have to do everything that others do. I think Bajaj has a very original vision and are have been very successful in the market. But I do not think we can replicate what they do. We will launch our own answer to those needs in the market. Though I do not think we are going to launch a quadricycle in India, but our vision is to launch an ultra-low-cost car.
Q: That will be with Ashok Leyland or without Ashok Leyland?
A: We have many partners in India. That is what I love about India —there are so many people with whom you can work with and learn from. So, it's a two-way street. This interaction between technology and learning the way of doing things in India is what I call frugal engineering with which you can make very powerful products.
Q: After being in India for almost five years through Renault and Nissan, how do you plan to achieve your target of a 10-percent market share by 2016?
A: I can understand the skepticism because four years ago we were selling hundreds of cars in India.
This year we are close to achieving, as an alliance, a 5-percent market-share in 2013. With our range of products and the capacity our plant in Chennai, we offer a proposal that consumers in India cannot refuse. That is what makes us confident.
Q: What about the risk of an overlapping of brands?
A: Though the pieces of technology are the same, no two cars are alike. Each is different in design and offer completely different choices.