Rumours have been circulating for years now, but it finally looks like one of the most-popular Japanese automotive brands ever, Datsun, may return in a few years, but not in Canada.
After being dropped in the mid-1980s, Nissan is looking at resurrecting its former Datsun brand name for a line of low-priced (about $6,500) vehicles in emerging Asian markets, according to a report from Japan’s Nikkei news service.
The new Datsuns will be part of a two-tier strategy that will continue to see more expensive Nissans sold in the same markets.
Japan’s automakers learning from 2011 disaster
It’s been just over a year since last March’s earthquake and tsunami essentially shut down the Japanese auto industry, causing months of disruption to vehicle supplies. But 12 months later, lessons learned from the disaster have fundamentally changed the way Japanese automakers are doing business.
According to a report in Automotive News, automakers and suppliers are “double-sourcing” more parts, reinforcing factories, moving facilities from flood plains, and improving emergency plans.
For example, Toyota has catalogued nearly 1,000 at-risk parts that could be troublesome in the next disaster, and has identified another 300 supplier factories in dangerous locations, either straddling fault lines or lying in the path of the next tsunami.
The automakers are even stockpiling larger vehicle inventories, a strategy that goes against Japan’s traditional “just-in-time” manufacturing ethos.
Pickup makers divided on fuel-economy strategies
Like taxes and death, inevitably, governments will force full-size pickup trucks to become more fuel-efficient. But lawmakers can’t decide how trucks will sip less gas. And that freedom is causing a technological dividing line among North America’s largest truck makers.
On the gas-only side is Ford, which is sticking with its smaller-displacement/turbocharged gas engine strategy, marketed as EcoBoost. But on the compressed natural gas (CNG) side, General Motors will offer a Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra with a V8 that can switch between CNG and regular gasoline, while Chrysler’s Ram pickup will come in a CNG powered model.
Why not CNG for Ford too?
Like electric-vehicles, Ford’s product development boss Raj Nair, tells the media he’s concerned about the lack of a CNG refilling infrastructure.
More news on new ’Cuda muscle car
According to Allpar.com, a new Barracuda muscle car that’s based on the existing Dodge Challenger is coming around 2014-2015.
But it probably won’t be badged as a Plymouth.
Instead, the car will be sold under the new SRT brand, a similar strategy that is seeing this year’s new Viper super-sports car lose its Dodge badge for an SRT logo. Speculation also has the ’Cuda as the first Chrysler to receive its new 6.2-litre supercharged V8.
New Hyundai Santa Fe heading to the Big Apple
As part of its continuing new product onslaught, Korea’s Hyundai has released images of its all-new 2013 Santa Fe crossover ahead of next month’s New York auto show debut.
Hyundai says the crossover’s new design language, “Storm Edge,” is an evolution of the “Fluidic Sculpture” theme it’s been using the past few years.
The Santa Fe will join a host of new or refreshed crossovers expected at the New York event, including the Buick Enclave, Lexus RX, Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota Venza.
Pininfarina may build Geneva concept
One of the highlights of this month’s Geneva Motor Show was the Cambiano concept sedan, from Italy’s Pininfarina design house. Apparently, the concept was so well received its creator is now considering series production.
Production of the Cambiano would take 24 to 30 months to start. And rather than the diesel-fueled turbine in the concept, the final car would probably have a diesel-powered engine as a range extender.
Pininfarina officials told Automotive News Europe that if they build 10 Cambianos, each car would cost about $1.3 million. If the production run were increased to 70 to 75, the per-unit price would fall to about $520,000.
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