Did you know? Naming Nissan
Posted Thursday, February 14 2013 at 12:59
Nissan Motor Company Limited is a Japanese multinational automaker. It was a core member of the Nissan Group, but has become more independent after its restructuring under CEO Carlos Ghosn.
A few years ago, I and a select group of journalists and marketers from different African countries not only toured Nissan South Africa (NSA)’s plant in Rosslyn, we also learnt how Nissan got its name.
Nigel Lawler, of NSA, explained to us all about NSA’s history. We learnt from Lawler that an American trained engineer of Japanese origin, Masujiro Hashimoto, helped Nissan evolve to what it is today since being established under Kwaishinsha Motorcar Works in the 1930s.
Hashimoto founded The Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works in 1911. In 1914, the company produced its first car, called DAT. The new car’s name was an acronym of the company’s investors’ family names: Kenjiro Den, Rokuro Aoyama, Meitaro Takeuchi .
With every first letter removed from Den, Aoyama and Takeuchi, they came up with DAT. The company was, however, renamed Kwaishinsha Motorcar Company in 1918, and again to DAT Motorcar Company in 1925. DAT Motors built trucks in addition to the DAT and Datsun passenger cars.
The vast majority of its output were trucks, due to an almost non-existent consumer market for passenger cars at the time. Beginning in 1918, the first DAT trucks were produced for the military market. It was the low demand of the military market in the 1920s that forced DAT to merge in 1926 with Japan’s second most successful truck maker, Jitsuyo Motors. In 1926 the Tokyo-based DAT Motors merged with the Osaka-based Jitsuyo Jidosha Company.
The partner forged with other Japanese founders led to the name Datson or Son of Dat. This was however short lived because the name literally meant “loss” in Japanese. Datsun is what was later agreed upon since Sun meant well for the Japanese as also reflected in their flag with a “rising sun” so to speak.
However, with Jidosha merging with another manufacturer Nihon Sangyo, Nisan was born and later changed to Nissan. In 1928, Yoshisuke Aikawa founded the holding company Nippon Sangyo (Japan Industries or Nippon Industries).
“The name ‘Nissan’ originated during the 1930s as an abbreviation used on the Tokyo stock market for Nippon Sangyo.
Datsun was used for exports purposes and Nissan for the domestic market but that was later shelved to have the entire brand as simply Nissan. Some of you may have seen cars with a badge ‘Nissan Datsun’, such cars belong to the past history.
Although NSA was in the 1990s owned partly (50% equity) by Nissan Motor Company, the Japanese parent company has since acquired a100% stake in NSA.
In 1999, Nissan entered a two way alliance with Renault S.A. of France, which owns 43.4% of Nissan while Nissan holds 15% of Renault shares, as of 2008. Along with its normal range of models, Nissan also produces a range of luxury models branded as Infiniti.