Nissan is a Japanese automaker that manufactures a full-line of passenger vehicles for the North American market. Nissan is Japan's third largest automakers, after Toyota and Honda. The company is closely affiliate with the French automaker Renault, which owns a significant share of Nissan. The two companies currently (early 2008) share Carlos Ghosn as president and CEO.
Nissan's used automotive range includes sedans, coupes, minivans, trucks, crossovers and sport utility vehicles. Examples include the Nissan Versa hatchback, Nissan Z sport coupe, Nissan Quest minivan, Nissan Armada full-size sport utility vehicles and the Nissan Frontier pickup truck.
Nissan originally marketed vehicles under the Datsun name. In 1959 the company introduced its Datsun cars to the United States through its US distributor (most foreign automakers make use of captive distributors based in the US to distribute their vehicles). It would be more than a decade before Nissan and other Japanese automakers would begin turning the tide against the Big Three. Nissan introduced notable cars during these early years, including the Datsun Fairlady and the now-famous Datsun 240Z. After the OPEC oil embargoes of 1973, Nissan's winning combination of offering cars with sporty looks and a fuel-sipping nature firmly established the company as a permanent fixture in the US market. Nissan's commitment to the North American market has resulted in the company building two assembly plants and one engine plant in the US.
Datsun Phased Out
The Datsun brand name would be phased out in 1986 in favor of using the Nissan corporate name. This was done to bolster the Nissan brand and allow for a single, worldwide brand name to be used company-wide. This was especially needed in the US market, where many consumers thought of Datsun as an automaker in its own right, and not as a Nissan brand.
Nissan's Financial Troubles and Turnaround
During the late 1990's, Nissan's financial situation was looking shaky. The company had suffered financial problems in foreign markets which had pulled the entire company into a severe financial condition. Several possible buyout and strategic partners where considered for Nissan. In 1999, an unusual alliance between Renault and Nissan was formed. Renault would hold a ~44% share of Nissan and Nissan would take a ~15% share of Renault. The two companies -- with completely different corporate cultures and vehicle line-ups -- would share leadership. Renault chief Carlos Ghosn was appointed Nissan's president and CEO and under his Nissan Revival Plan, brought Nissan back from the brink of financial destitution.