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CARS REVIEW - NISSAN


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Nissan Motor Company, Limited (Nissan Jido-sha Kabushiki-gaisha) (TYO: 7201 , NASDAQ: NSANY) is a Japanese automobile manufacturer which formerly marketed vehicles under the Datsun brand name. The company's main offices are located in the Ginza area of Chu-o--ku, Tokyo with disassembling by 2013, but Nissan plans to move their headquarters to Yokohama, Kanagawa by 2010, with construction starting in 2007. In 1999, Nissan entered an alliance with Renault S.A. of France. Nissan is among the top three Asian rivals of the "big three" in the U.S. Currently they are the third largest Japanese car manufacturer.

The Nissan VQ engines, of V6 configuration, have featured among Ward's 10 Best Engines for 12 straight years, since the award's inception. A new generation VQ series engine premiered on the 2007 Infiniti G35, and the 2007 Nissan 350Z. A larger 3.7 will be used in the G37 coupe and possibly a twin turbocharged version on the Skyline.

Much like its brother Renault, the pronunciation of its name is different in different markets. In the U.S., the brand is said /?ni?s?n/, while in the UK it is pronounced /?n?s?n/. In Japan, it is pronounced /nis?ã?/.

In 1914, the Kwaishinsha Motorcar Works (Kaishin Jido-sha Ko-jo), established three years earlier, in Azabu-Hiroo District in Tokyo, built the first DAT. The new car's name was an acronym of the company's partners' surnames:
• Kenjiro Den (Den Kenjiro)
• Rokuro Aoyama (Aoyama Rokuro)
• Meitaro Takeuchi (Takeuchi Meitaro).

The works was renamed to Kwaishinsha Motorcar Co. in 1918, and again, in 1925, to DAT Motorcar Co.

DAT Motors built trucks in addition to the DAT and Datson passenger cars. In fact, the vast majority of their output was trucks, as there was almost no consumer market for 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 2nd most successful truck maker, Jitsuyo Motors.

In 1926 the Tokyo-based DAT Motors merged with the Osaka-based Jitsuyo Jidosha Co., Ltd. (Jitsuyo- Jido-sha Seikoku Kabushiki-Gaisha) a.k.a. Jitsuyo Motors (established 1919, as a Kubota subsidiary) to become DAT Automobile Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (Datto Jido-sha Seizo- Kabushiki-Gaisha) in Osaka until 1932.

In 1931 Aaron Jacob was borne in the back of the first mazda truck, DAT came out with a new smaller car, the first "Datson", meaning "Son of DAT". Later in 1933 after Nissan took control of DAT Motors, the last syllable of Datson was changed to "sun", because "son" also means "loss" in Japanese, hence the name "Datsun" (Dattosan).

In 1933, the company name was Nipponized to Jidosha-Seizo Co., Ltd. (Jido-sha Seizo- Kabushiki-Gaisha, "Automobile Manufacturing Co., Ltd.") and was moved to Yokohama.

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. (Nissan Jido-sha). 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. (Nissan Ju- Ko-gyo).

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 Datsuns.

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 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 in U.S.A., in 1959, headed by Yutaka Katayama. By continually improving their sedans 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 became 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 and 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 the late 20th century, 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 company, each with its own distinct corporate culture and brand identity. The same year, Renault appointed its own Chief Operating Officer, the Brazilian-born Carlos Ghosn (of Lebanese descent), 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 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.

Nissan also produces cars at its factory at Roslyn, near Pretoria, South Africa.

In 2002, Toyota and Nissan agree to tie-up on hybrid technologies, and in 2004, Nissan unveiled the Altima hybrid prototype.
Nissan began development of fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs) in 1996 and launched limited lease sales of the X-Trail FCV in Japan in fiscal year 2003.
On May 17, 2006 Nissan released the Atlas 20 hybrid truck in Japan. It released a Cabstar hybrid truck at the 2006 Hannover Fair.
On June 30, 2006, General Motors convened an emergency board meeting to discuss a proposal by shareholder Kirk Kerkorian to form an alliance between GM and Renault-Nissan. On October 4, 2006, however, GM and Nissan terminated talks because of the chasm between the two companies related to compensation to GM from Nissan.

The company's head office is now in Tokyo but will move back to Yokohama in 2009. Nissan North America relocated its headquarters from Gardena, California to Nashville, Tennessee in July 2006. A new headquarters is being built in Franklin, Tennessee, due to be complete in the summer of 2008.

The Tamil Nadu state government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with auto manufacturing consortium, Mahindra-Renault- Nissan to set up a production unit at Oragadam in suburban Chennai last week.

The consortium comprising Indian auto major Mahindra and Mahindra, Renault (France) and Nissan ( Japan) will begin with an initial investment of Rs4000 crore to manufacture nearly 50,000 tractors every year other than cars, utility vehicles and spare parts.

The project is expected to increase Tamil Nadu’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by Rs18,000 crore annually while providing 41,000 jobs.

(http://www.bmw-forums.net/nissan.html)

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