Might the new Xing put the shine back into Venucias sales performance?

Might the new Xing put the shine back into Venucia's sales performance?

Has Nissan Motor Corporation's experiment with the revival of one make and the creation of another worked? 

In the case of Datsun, the parent company hasn't exactly showered the brand with attention and a broad, up to date model line-up. Another once thriving now struggling low-cost division, Dongfeng Nissan's Venucia, might come good. All it really needs are the same, basic things of which the reportedly doomed Datsun was deprived. 

Datsun

It seems as though Datsun is going back into mothballs, an experiment from the Ghosn era to be classified under 'Failed'. Is that too harsh a judgement?

We'll never know how many sales of Nissan and perhaps even Infiniti vehicles will one day have had their origins in buyers looking back fondly to the long ago days of 2014-2020 when they owned a new Datsun. As with Scion in North America, what if this division has in fact worked as an incubator? The counter argument would say that this really isn't relevant, insisting that relatively few vehicles have been sold in the targeted countries where presently low incomes are envisaged rising steeply in the 2020s and 2030s.

One of the oddities of the Datsun model range is the lack of global consistency. Take Russia, for example. Here, there are just a couple of cars, the on-DO, a small sedan with strong links to the Dacia/Renault Logan and Lada Granta, and the mi-DO hatchback. The sales total was a combined 22,436 in 2019. That was 1.3% of the Russian market and a gain of 9.1% over 2018. Not a bad result for a brand which last launched a new model in the first quarter of 2015. And there is the real story: Nissan Motor gave up on Datsun a while ago without stating that it had. 

We see the same pattern in another place where in theory the division could have done well had it been allowed to have more models. The crash test results of certain vehicles weren't pleasant viewing either, and potential Indian buyers reacted to these YouTube clips as any of us would. Still, Datsun remains alive in the local market, at least for now, and one model has even just been updated. That's the redi-Go, a 3,430 mm long hatchback which has much in common with the larger and equally elevated Renault Kwid.

Let's see what Nissan announces on 28 May but even if Datsun is to go the way of the Dodo, it was a worthwhile attempt to try bringing in a low-price brand. As Volkswagen keeps showing via the outstanding results continuously delivered by Skoda, such brands thrive and bring in huge profits when nurtured: something Nissan seemed not to realise. Trying to sell old cars full of outdated technology and a limited line-up devoid of additional, newer models always has predictable results.

Venucia

Datsun was never launched in China; instead, Dongfeng Motor and Nissan Motor decided to invent rather than reinvent a brand strong on affordability. The results, initially promising, have become mixed. For that reason, the axe possibly falling on Venucia too should not be ruled out.

On the face of it, calendar year retail sales of 118,609 looks like a good result. The trouble is, that was an 11.2% drop on 2018 and last year, the overall market dipped by only 4%. Also, Venucia's volume out of 20,804,787 vehicles sold meant market share was minimal.

It's not a good idea to read too much into April data, though for the record, while retail sales numbers were not available at the time of publishing, wholesale deliveries to dealers numbered 5,529 units (-32% YoY) out of a total market which rose by 4.4% (the first gain in 22 months) to 2.07m. That placed the brand in 37th position, sandwiched between Chery Auto's Jetour and a touch higher than Mitsubishi.

Venucia's six-figure sales last year was made up of volume from five models, a couple of which are getting on in years. Sounding familiar? That isn't meant to be harsh criticism, more a statement that we need to keep an eye on this brand, lest Dongfeng and Nissan's potential loss of interest is missed. Let us instead presume though, that several of the promised new and additional vehicles will start to appear during the second half of 2020, giving dealers hope that Venucia is gain some vigour.

If indeed fresh vehicles are on their way, one of the first should be a large SUV. Dongfeng Nissan revealed a concept of such a model at the Beijing motor show in April 2018. The prototype was exhibited as the Venucia X.

Technically, the slightly smaller Xing (Star) is an existing vehicle yet a case can certainly be made for calling it a just-launched model. Dongfeng Nissan revealed this 4,691 mm long SUV at the Guangzhou motor show in November 2019 and sales were meant to commence in January. Instead, the plant which was ready to commence production was idled and no-one knew when the Xing's arrival in showrooms - it should have been January - would happen.

Because of COVID-19, there was a three-month delay in getting the newest Venucia out into the marketplace, with a relaunch campaign presently underway. With luck, this model may have been able to give the brand's sales a handy boost in May. 

On paper the Xing looks right for the times, with keen pricing and a mild hybrid 140 kW 1.5-litre turbo engine. Curiously, DFN, the Dongfeng Nissan JV, claims this is the first vehicle for VSA, an architecture family which is claimed not to be evolved from any Renault platforms.

The next model due for launch - after a facelift for the T90 soon - is a successor for the T70 which is now six years old and heavily based on the 2007-2015 Nissan X-Trail. The second generation should be launched in 2021.

Details of all other Venucia models, such as the T60, D60, D60 EV, M50V and e30 can be found in PLDB.

Reports for many other manufacturers' future models are grouped in the OEM product strategy summaries section of just-auto.com.

Future platform intelligence

More detail on past, current and forthcoming models can be found in PLDB, the future vehicles database which is part of GlobalData's Automotive Intelligence Center.

The first brands to be featured as part of the Groupe Renault and Nissan Motor series were Alpine and Renault. Next came Samsung (RSM: Renault Samsung Motors), Dacia, Lada, and Mitsubishi. The final report will focus on Nissan and be published just after the company announces its restructuring plan on 28 May.

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