Nissan Motor Company Ltd is one of the biggest car manufacturers in Japan. Its headquarters are in Nishi-Ku in Yokohama, Japan. From 1999 on, Nissan is part of the the partnership called Renault-Nissan Alliance, which was made with this French car manufacturer, by which Renault owns more than 40% of stakes in Nissan, while the Nissan controls only 15% of the stakes in Renault Company. It is one of the biggest companies in the automotive world and it is placed on the 6th place behind Toyota, GM, VW, Hyundai and Ford. Together with Renault it takes the fourth position on the biggest car manufacturers list.
In 1911 Japanese Japanese industrialist Masujiro Hashimoto founded motor company under the name Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works. Soon his company released its first vehicle under the name DAT which is the acronym of names of some of his family members. His company changed its name two time, until in 1925 it took the name of its first successful model, it was called DAT Jidosha Co& Ltd. this company produced trucks only, since at the time car market was almost non-existent. Their trucks were mostly used by the Imperial Japanese Army. One year after their name change they merged with Osaka based Jitsuyo Jidosha Seizo, and founded conglomerate called DAT Jidosha Seizo Co., Ltd Automobile Manufacturing Co.,Ltd. New company produced both trucks and light cars under the name Lila. Soon they also launched another light car under the name Datsun, which means ”the son of DAT”.
Name Nissan came from the holding company founded by Yoshisuke Aikawa, under the name Nihon Sangyo. ”Nissan” was used as abreviation for this company on Tokyo stock market. Company grow and took 74 different companies under its wing. They had their holdings in automotive business, but only in the foundries and auto-part plants. The beginning of Nissan history started when DAT company became associated with Tobata Casting, which was the company under the Nissan wing. Soon DAT was incorporated in Tobata Casting in 1933.
Only one year later Nissan Motors was founded. Tobata independent holders didn’t like the fact that their company is going to start a car production business, so Aikawa bought all the shares of Tobata and became the owner of the whole Nissan Motors. soon the biggest plant of the company was built in Yokohama. Nissan produced trucks and airplanes for Japanese Army. After Manchuria was occupied by Japan, they shift one part of production to the occupied territory, and was named Manchuria Heavy Industries. Headquarters of the company was shifted to Tokyo, and named Nissan Heavy Industries, the name which it held until 1949.
One of the main designers in the new company was William R. Gorham, who previously worked in Takata Castings. Aikawa liked American car design and US in general, since the visit to Detroit in 1908. First company in United States they started cooperating with was Austin Motors, from who Nissan got the license for Austin cars which were assembled by the Datsun division. This cooperation was great success for both companies, Austin made its first overseas trade, while Nissan used it also to become more international oriented. After World War 2, two companies continued their cooperation with a contract signed in 1952. This was very important contract for Japanese company, since it gave them right to assemble 2,000 Austin vehicles, from parts imported from US, but also gave them right to use all Austin patents and they used that to start production of Austin-styled engines, first one was 1489 cc engine, for Austin A50, which was completely built in Japanese plants. In next six years Nissan produced 20,855 Austin vehicles.
First new engine completely designed by the company was Nissan L engine. It had some similarities with engines coming from Mercedes Benz, and it was placed in Datsun 510. Their first sports car was Datsun 240 Z, with six cylinder version of their original L engine. During the fifties the company had a lot of troubles with unions and strikes, most notable is the 100 day strike of its workers. Company, together with American occupation forces brutally suppressed all the later strikes and union leaders were massively arrested.
One of the greatest deals the company had, was merging with Prince Motors. This deal brought some of the most popular models under Nissan’s wing, like Nissan Skyline and Nissan Gloria. Nissan is the pioneer of using beautiful girls in promoting their models. On 1964 Olympics, which the company used for their promotion, with installing car galleries on some of the main sport revenues, first Nissan Fairlady pageants were organized. This program was name under the famous Broadway play at the time and it was also used to promote Datsun Fairlady model.
Fifties were also the years of company’s expansion to the world markets, above all American and Australian one. First Datsun models were premiered on the 1958 Los Angeles Auto Show. Also the Nissan Motor Corporation USA was founded and the first CEO was Yukata Takayama. Oil crises that hit US in 1973, increased company’s profit, since most of the American decided to shift to the smaller and more economic cars. they spread their assembly lines to Mexico, Taiwan and Australia. First American factories owned by the company were opened because of the Chicken Tax Law, which put a 25% tax on commercial vans produced outside US. First plant was made in Smyrna, Tennessee. It first produced only trucks, vans and hardbody vehicles, but it later shifted to the Altima, Maxima, Pathfinder, LEAF etc. First Factory in Europe was opened in UK in 1986, under the Nissan Motors UK subsidiary division.
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