Motoring News 26.2.2014 02:00 pm

Datsun GO on its way

The next leg in our comprehensive journey leading up to the Datsun Go hitting our South African roads in the fourth quarter of this year saw us attend the start of production of this eagerly anticipated hatch in Chennai, India.

This is a world class standard car that is being produced to capitalise on the new found spend available to the emerging middle class who are looking for mobility and independence in the form of a brand new car. It is said these people don’t want to buy second hand, or buy into old models that have been reworked into new cars; they want to experience the joy of purchasing and owning a new spec car.

Datsun feel they have a product that offers modern technology relevant to a planned budget friendly price in order to make this happen in a big way. South African spec for our cars have not been determined yet, but from what we have seen so far, there is enough car on offer to keep most potential customers happy.

SA should get a mid spec and a high spec model, the cars are believed to run 1.2 litre 16v 50kW / 104 Nm naturally aspirated powerplants that should return around 20 litres per 100km and decent performance in a package that ways around 100kg less than the current Nissan Micra.

Budget friendly was said to be around R95 000 less than a year ago when we started our Datsun journey but since then the rand has devalued a full 27 percent and this is going to make coming in at under R100 000 by the end of the year a challenge that might just be a bridge too far. But either way, you can expect a car that is priced better than the competition by the same considerable margin as it would should this car launch here today.

Now I am no political editor, I pay my taxes and simply trudge to work day in and day out just like most of you do. I don’t over involve myself in political comment other than to think some things work great and some things are a dismal failure. So just like me you might be wondering why we had to go all the way to India to see a car being produced there that could easily be produced here in South Africa.

The short answer is that the Datsun people had some talks with our government officials and were given no decent answers as to how government plans to solve our labour crisis that sees our expensive and unstable workforce holding manufacturers to ransom at every opportunity and doing irreversible damage to same industry that provides them a source of income.

So Datsun are keeping their investment money for now and will simply be sending us cars from India where the labour force is stable and substantially better value for money when it comes to manufacturing costs.

The Renault / Nissan Alliance plant in Oragadam near Chennai is the first factory globally to start production of the new generation of Datsun models. Don’t forget though we also have an existing Renault / Nissan Alliance plant in Roslyn, Pretoria of our own that could be tooled up and made ready to produce our own Datsuns and benefit our local economy and workforce.

Over 100 local companies supply components and parts for the Datsun Go in India, demonstrating the positive impact that the introduction of the Datsun brand has on the local economy around Chennai. Again this could be to our own local benefit.

But enough politics, back to production related content rather. The first Datsun Go that rolled off the production line in Oragadam marks the introduction of the new Datsun brand to the Indian market, with sales there starting already now in March. And not just any sales, the team at Nissan Motor Corporation believe that within in the next three years Datsuns could make up half the company’s sales in India.

Speaking at the event, Toshiyuki Shiga, Vice Chairman, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. said, “This is a landmark day for all of us at Nissan Motor Corporation. It represents the culmination of several years of extremely hard work to return the Datsun brand to the market”.

“The philosophy that will drive the success of Datsun is that its products will combine Nissan’s global know how with local knowledge across development and production, to meet the specific demands of customers in the market.”

“Thanks to this approach, the Datsun GO will be positioned at a uniquely accessible price point, giving customers an unprecedented opportunity to own a modern family car.”

Vincent Cobee, Global Head of Datsun, concluded by adding, “The Oragadam plant and its associated technical facilities are the equal of any other factory within the global Renault Nissan Alliance in terms of quality, efficiency and flexibility. As a result, customers will enjoy the Datsun

GO as it raises the bar in every respect within its segment.”

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