“In India and Indonesia, we have the Datsun brand. It’s not really selling very strongly as of today,” Joji Tagawa, the always affable investor relations chief of Nissan Motor, said yesterday at the company’s HQ in Yokohama. “We have a joint plant with Renault in India, and last summer, the CMF-A platform-based Renault Kwid was introduced. It is selling really well.”
With that, the suitably diplomatic Tagawa rendered the haiku-version of a yet unreported twist in the relationship between Nissan and its French Alliance partner Renault SA, a story I now can tell in more epic breath.
Three years ago, I made a big mistake, predicting that by 2015, a revolutionary Datsun car would turn India’s auto market upside-down with an unheard-of price point. I said the car would be based on an autoworld-shaking entry-level platform, jointly developed by Renault and Nissan. I went to sweltering Chennai, India, to meet the leader of the project, Gérard Detourbet, the living legend who transformed Dacia from a down-and-out Stalinesque relic into Europe’s fastest-growing car brand. Addressed to the skeptical audience of the Society of Automotive Engineers, I penned a multi-page ode to CMF-A, as the platform was called, and I predicted that after a 2015 launch, this vehicle would disrupt emerging car markets.