According to a new report from Bloomberg, Nissan is planning to cut about 300 billion yen (or $2.8 billion) from its annual fixed costs to stay afloat as the coronavirus hamstrings its sales. As part of that restructuring, the Japanese automaker plans to phase out the Datsun brand once more, as well as cut marketing and R&D costs, a person close to the matter said.
If you aren’t familiar with the Datsun brand, the brand stretches back to 1931. It’s been under Nissan’s wing since 1934 and is the name under which its most popular sports cars, including the early Z cars from the 240Z to the 280Z, were sold. After axing the brand in 1986, Nissan under Carlos Ghosn decided to relaunch the brand in 2013 as a low-cost option for emerging markets. The Go hatchback shown below was its first offering, but it’s also made some other small cars for Indonesia, India, South Africa and Russia.
It’s never a brand that was going to make its way to the U.S., but it’s an unmistakable sign of the times when a company kills off a car brand twice.
Nissan’s turmoil isn’t new, but it has been getting worse
Since former chairman Carlos Ghosn was arrested, Nissan has faced an uphill battle reversing its fortunes. So far in 2020, the company’s sales have slipped 30 percent, in some part thanks to the ongoing fallout from Ghosn’s departure, but also because of the coronavirus pandemic. As stay-at-home orders and health concerns hamper public demand, most of the industry has suffered. However, Nissan is one of the automakers that have been hardest hit over the past months.
These new cost-cutting measures are part of a three-year plan that Nissan should reveal on May 28. From there, it will need to be approved by the company’s board and may change. Nissan also reportedly plans to close one of its production lines to improve its utilization rate, so it can build closer to its total capacity.
As it stands, Nissan has extended its production shutdown in the U.S., with no announcement concerning when its plants will reopen.