The revival of the Datsun brand has been very ambitious for Nissan to take on the volume segments in emerging markets. The company launched its first product the ‘Datsun GO’ this year that was all set to rival the entry-level A-segment hatchbacks, the Maruti Suzuki Alto and the Hyundai Eon. While the Alto is the king in this segment, Nissan was optimistic that the Datsun GO would be able to give a tough fight to the legend in terms of sales. But as opposed to the Japanese automaker’s plans, the sales of the GO hatchback have fallen short on expectations.
Launched in March this year, Nissan estimated a sales figure of 5000 units per month for the Datsun GO, which seemed completely plausible as the competitors in the segment easily achieve that number. However, the company saw around 2250 units of the GO move out of dealerships on an average every month, half of what the automaker originally anticipated. The company sold a total of 6750 units of the GO in the combined period of March, April and May, whereas Maruti sold 59,664 units of the Alto and Hyundai sold 20,273 units of the Eon during the same period.
Nissan acknowledged that the GO hatchback did not live up to internal expectations and cited the absence of dealerships and the lack of awareness as a major reason for the same. Maruti and Hyundai share an extensive dealer network across the country, which Nissan does not. Nonetheless, the automaker is now expanding its dealership base to around 200 dealerships by the end of this fiscal and plans to have 100 more in the next 2 years. Nissan also plans to create more recognition and familiarity for the Datsun brand in the country, which will help in boosting sales eventually. It will also open Datsun only dealerships across the country.
Despite the lukewarm response received by the GO hatchback, Nissan has not altered its plans and will launch the Datsun GO+ MPV later this year, which is touted to be the most affordable 7-seater in the segment. The company also plans to launch a sub-Alto product in the future that will be priced a little above Rs. 2 lakhs and will be primarily competing against the Tata Nano in the segment. Nissan is aiming at an 8 percent market share and 8 percent operating profit globally by 2016-17 and the Datsun brand will be playing a key role in achieving the goal for the automaker.