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Auto blogWed, 05 Feb 2014 16:59:00 EST
Nissan's plan for its reborn Datsun sub-brand just got a shot in the arm, as the emerging-market manufacturer has unveiled its first concept car since its resurrection back in 2012. Called the Redi-Go Concept, it looks like a high-riding version of Datsun's recently launched Go hatchback that's been fitted with a few concept car cues (not a bad thing).
The Redi-Go packs LED taillights, Datsun's "D-cut grille" and LED running lights into its Go-inspired body. Funky two-tone 15-inch wheels add a bit of cheek to the overall design, and in our minds look quite good, despite being so small. The ruggedized front and rear bumpers, as well as the sill and wheel arch surrounds add to the Redi-Go's rough-and-tumble aesthetic. We like that Datsun has kept the overall package short, giving the Redi-Go a 92.5-inch wheelbase, rather than creating a lifted version of the upcoming Go+. There are no specific mentions of the Redi-Go's mechanicals, although we'd wager that a production model might share the 1.2-liter engine and five-speed manual found in the standard Go.
While it might be easy to dismiss a concept like the Redi-Go in America, there's no denying its importance to the Indian market, which is decidedly more limited when it comes to available bodystyles. "If we were to make a car like Datsun Redi-Go Concept it would be a segment creator in India, an aspirational car that at the same time is attainable, a car that would be within reach of the first time buyer. This concept shows how serious we are about reinvigorating the market by catering for the needs of a growing class of Indians who have the chance to own a family car that will enable them to enjoy a new sense of independence," said Vincent Cobee, the global head of Datsun.
Nobody does cars on the cheap quite like the Renault-Nissan Alliance. The former part of the equation already has its Dacia brand of cost-effective, no-frills vehicles that have become a favorite of Top Gear co-host James May, and last summer, the latter revived its Datsun nameplate for a budget brand of its own.
The reborn Datsun launched in India this past July with its Go hatchback, returned in September with the Go+ minivan and revealed the Redi-Go concept just last month. And now it's given us our first look at an upcoming budget sedan developed specifically for the Russian market.
The as-yet unnamed vehicle (which we'll bet will incorporate the word "go" into its nameplate somehow) is set to debut on April 4, where it will launch the Datsun brand in Russia. Few details are available at this point, but the low-cost sedan was designed in Japan to offer Russian drivers "an engaging driving experience, peace of mind ownership and accessibility at the right and transparent price, with a competitive Total Cost of Ownership."
When Tata introduced the Nano back in 2008, everyone was amazed at how cheap it was. They called it a game changer, but no game was changed. In fact, it took Tata five years to sell the 250,000 units it had the capacity to build in a single year. As it turns out, even buyers in what economists call "developing markets" like India aren't necessarily interested in buying an ultra-cheap automobile. And now it appears that Nissan may be falling into the same trap.
A little over a year ago, Nissan revived its old moniker Datsun to serve as a budget brand - similar to what ally Renault did with Dacia. Its lineup (consisting of models like the Go hatchback, Go+ minivan, On-Do sedan and Mi-Do hatch) is largely based on old architecture, packaged with little more than basic equipment and sold at rock-bottom prices. But Bloomberg reports that, even in the brand's core markets like India and Indonesia, the new Datsuns haven't been selling.
According to local industry figures, Datsun has sold fewer than 10,000 units of its $5,100 Go hatchbacks in India since its introduction back in March. Maruti Suzuki, by comparison, sells twice that many of its similarly priced Alto hatchbacks every month. In fact, after peaking in April, Datsun only sold 607 units in India this past July, dipping 77 percent to drop below even the number of Nanos which Tata sold that month.