The Datsun Go hatchback in its latest guise. Picture: Motorpress.

TOKYO - Nissan is likely to ditch its Datsun budget brand, according to a report from Reuters, which cites two company insiders with direct knowledge of the matter.

Although not yet officially confirmed by Nissan, this would reportedly form part of a wider restructuring plan which could also see the Japanese carmaker drop some of its unprofitable models and close some assembly lines, although Nissan is apparently not planning to close down any assembly plants or pull out of any countries.

Nissan is currently grappling with falling sales and profits following a year of leadership turmoil in which it lost long-standing boss Carlos Ghosn in a pay scandal, as well as his replacement Hiroto Saikawa, who recently resigned over his own financial controversies.

Nissan has however put on a brave face at this week’s Tokyo Motor Show, where the carmaker is showing off its future electric car plans with two new concept vehicles. 

Why let go of Datsun?

While Nissan plans a big push towards electrification and autonomous driving tech, budget cars such at the Datsun Go face an uncertain future.

Datsun was resurrected in 2013 as a budget brand for emerging markets, and its Go hatchback made its way to South Africa the following year with a price tag of just R89 500, although it was criticised for its lack of safety features and credentials. Nissan has since up-specced the car, but it’s no longer the affordable option it once was, with the range currently starting at R159 100.

According to the insider that Reuters spoke to, the Datsun brand "will likely bear the brunt of the restructuring”. Apparently the main problem with Datsun is that it is eating into Nissan sales in markets where the two brands are sold alongside each other.

“We ended up pushing two mainstream brands in a market where you have a one or two percent market share. You cannot do that,” the source told Reuters.

This won't be the first time that Nissan has killed off the Datsun nameplate, which was the company's main brand for export markets until it was replaced by Nissan across the entire model range in the early '80s.

At this stage there has been no official confirmation from Nissan on its plans for the Datsun brand.

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