Nissan Motor Company, Limited shortened to Nissan is a multinational automaker headquartered in Japan.
It formerly marketed vehicles under the ''Datsun'' brand name and is one of the largest car manufacturers. The company's main offices are located in the Ginza area of Tokyo. In 1999, Nissan entered an alliance with Renault S.A. of France, which owns 44.4% of Nissan as of 2008. Nissan is among the top three Asian (also known as the Japanese Big 3 Automakers) rivals of the ''Big Three'' in the U.S. Currently they are the third largest Japanese car manufacturer. It also manufactures the Infiniti luxury brand.
In 1928, Yoshisuke Aikawa founded the holding company Nippon Sangyo (Japan Industries or Nippon Industries). ''Then name 'Nissan' originated during the 1930s as an abbreviation'' used on the Tokyo stock market for Nippon Sangyo. This company was the famous Nissan ''Zaibatsu'' (combine) which included Tobata Casting and Hitachi. At this time Nissan controlled foundries and auto parts businesses, but Aikawa did not enter automobile manufacturing until 1933.
Nissan would eventually grow to include 74 firms, and to be the fourth-largest combine in Japan during World War II.
In 1931, Aikawa purchased controlling shares in DAT Motors, and then in 1933 it merged Tobata Casting's automobile parts department with DAT Motors. As Tobata Casting was a Nissan company, this was the beginning of Nissan's automobile manufacturing.
In 1934, Aikawa ''separated the expanded automobile parts division of Tobata Casting and incorporated it as a new subsidiary, which he named Nissan Motor (Nissan)''. Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. The shareholders of the new company however were not enthusiastic about the prospects of the automobile in Japan, so Aikawa bought out all the Tobata Casting shareholders (using capital from Nippon Industries) in June, 1934. At this time Nissan Motors effectively became owned by Nippon Sangyo and Hitachi.
Nissan built trucks, airplanes, and engines for the Japanese military. The company's main plant was moved to China after land there was captured by Japan. The plant made machinery for the Japanese war effort until it was captured by American and Russian forces. For two years (1947 to 1948) the company was briefly called Nissan Heavy Industries Corp.
DAT had inherited Kubota's chief designer who was an American, William R. Gorham. This, along with Aikawa's vision-inspiring 1908 visit to Detroit was to greatly affect Nissan's future.
Although it had always been Aikawa's intention to use the latest cutting-edge automaking technology from America, it was Gorham that carried out this plan. All the machinery, vehicle designs and engine designs originally came out of the USA. Much of the tooling came from the Graham factory and Nissan had a Graham license under which trucks were made. The machinery was imported into Japan by Mitsubishi on behalf of Nissan, which went into the first Yokohama factory to produce cars.
From 1993-2002 Nissan partnered with Ford to market a consumer-friendly minivan. The Mercury Villager and the Nissan Quest. The 2 minivans were manufactured with all the same parts and were virtually identical aside from several cosmetic differences. In 2002 Ford discontinued their Mercury version of the Nissan Quest to make room for the future Freestar and Monterey. Nissan continued to produce the Quest and are still presently manufactured .
In 1992, Nissan re-launched its Terrano four-wheel drive, which was visually and mechanically identical to the Ford Maverick. Both cars were built in Spain, although the Maverick was discontinued in 1998 due to disappointing sales, the Terrano was a strong seller and remained in production until 2005 when the Nissan Pathfinder replaced it.
Like Hino and Isuzu, but unlike Toyota, Nissan partnered with an established European company to gain access to automobile and engine designs. Nissan chose Austin of the United Kingdom, which later became the British Motor Corporation by its merger with Morris et al. Nissan began building Austin 7s in 1930, though the legitimacy of their license at that time is debated.
Later, in 1952 Nissan Motor Company of Japan entered into a well-documented legal agreement with Austin , for Nissan to assemble 2,000 Austins from imported partially assembled sets and sell them in Japan under the Austin trademark. The agreement called for Nissan to make all Austin parts locally within three years, a goal Nissan met. Nissan produced and marketed Austins for seven years. The agreement also gave Nissan rights to use Austin patents, which Nissan used in developing its own engines for its Datsun line of cars. In 1953 British-built Austins were assembled and sold, but by 1955, the Austin A50 -- completely built by Nissan and featuring a slightly larger body with new 1489 cc engine -- was on the market in Japan. Nissan produced 20,855 Austins from 1953-1959.
Engine Development: Nissan leveraged the Austin patents to further develop their own modern engine designs past what the Austin's A- and B-family designs offered. The apex of the Austin-derived engines was the new design A series engine in 1967. Also in 1967 Nissan introduced its new highly advanced four cylinder overhead cam (OHC) Nissan L engine, which while similar to Mercedes-Benz OHC designs was a totally new engine designed by Nissan. This engine powered the new Datsun 510, which gained Nissan respect in the worldwide sedan market. Then, in 1970 Nissan introduced the Datsun 240Z sports car which used a six-cylinder variation of the L series engine. The 240Z was an immediate sensation and lifted Nissan to world class status in the automobile market.
In 1966, Nissan merged with the Prince Motor Company, bringing into its range more upmarket cars, including the Skyline and Gloria. The Prince name was eventually abandoned, with successive Skylines and Glorias bearing the Nissan name - however, ''Prince'' is still used in names of certain Nissan dealers in Japan. Nissan introduced a new luxury brand for the US market in the early 1990s called Infiniti.
In the 1950s, Nissan made a conscious decision to expand into worldwide markets. Nissan management realized their Datsun small car line would fill an unmet need in markets such as Australia and the world's largest car market, the United States. In 1958 they first showed cars at the 1959 Los Angeles auto show, and sold a few cars that year in the United States. The company formed a U.S. subsidiary, Nissan Motor Corporation U.S.A., in 1959, headed by Yutaka Katayama. By continually technologically improving their sedans, along with chic Italianate styling and adding sporty cars such as the Datsun Fairlady roadsters, the sporty and race-winning 411 series, the Datsun 510 and the world-class Datsun 240Z sports car, by 1970 Nissan had become one of the world's largest exporters of automobiles.
In the wake of the 1973 oil crisis, consumers worldwide (especially in the lucrative U.S. market) began turning in rapidly increasing numbers to high-quality small economy cars. Nissan made a conscious decision for their growing economy car lines to have a ''sporting'' flavor, and set up new factories in Mexico, Australia, Taiwan and South Africa.
The firm established assembly operations in the United States in the early 1980s, with a plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. This facility at first built only trucks and SUVs, such as the 720, Hardbody, and Pathfinder, but has since been expanded to produce several car lines. An engine plant in Decherd, Tennessee followed, and most recently a second assembly plant in Canton, Mississippi.
In order to overcome export tariffs and delivery costs to its European customers, Nissan contemplated establishing a plant inside Europe's borders. After an extensive review, Sunderland in United Kingdom was chosen due to the local availability of a highly skilled workforce and its position near major ports. The plant was completed in 1986 as the subsidiary Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd. Since then it has arisen to achieve the highly coveted title of being the most productive plant in Europe, and by 2007 will be producing 400,000 vehicles per year.
Financial difficulties (approaching billions) in Australia in the late 1980s caused Nissan to cease production there. Due to the ''Button Plan'' the Australian operation was unique as the Nissan products were also re-badged both by General Motors Holden (Pulsar re-badged as Holden Astra), and Ford (Bluebird re-badged as Ford Corsair).
In 1999, with Nissan facing severe financial difficulties, Nissan entered an alliance with Renault S.A. of France.
Signed on March 27, 1999, the Renault-Nissan Alliance is the first of its kind involving a Japanese and a French car manufacturer, each with its own distinct corporate culture and brand identity. The same year, Renault appointed its own Chief Operating Officer, Carlos Ghosn, as Chief Operating Officer of Nissan and took a 22.5% stake in Nissan Diesel. Later that year, Nissan fired its top Japanese executives.
The Renault-Nissan Alliance is a unique group of two global companies linked by cross-shareholding, with Renault holding 44.3% of Nissan shares, while Nissan holds 15% of (non-voting) Renault shares.
Under president Ghosn's ''Nissan Revival Plan'' (NRP), the company has rebounded in what many leading economists consider to be one of the most spectacular corporate turnarounds in history, catapulting Nissan to record profits and a dramatic revitalization of both its Nissan and Infiniti model line-ups. Despite the turnaround, Infiniti sales have been a disappointment. In 2001, the company initiated Nissan 180, capitalizing on the success of the NRP. The targets set with 180 were an additional sale of 1 million cars, achieving operating margins of 8%, and to have zero automotive debts. Ghosn has been recognized in Japan for the company's turnaround in the midst of an ailing Japanese economy. Ghosn and the Nissan turnaround were featured in Japanese manga and popular culture. His achievements in revitalizing Nissan were noted by Emperor Akihito, who awarded him the Japan Medal with Blue Ribbon in 2004.
The first product of the Nissan-Renault alliance was the Nissan Primera, launched in 2001 and based on the Renault Laguna that had been launched in 2000. Subsequently, Nissan's Micra, Note and Versa models have shared the same mechanical design as the Renault Clio.
During that time, perceived reliability of Nissan's cars has declined, with the company in the UK edging ever-closer to partner organisation Renault at the foot of the JD Power Survey, along with a number of other similar studies.