REDI, SET GO! Datsun's Redi GO will arrive in SA during late 2016. Image: Sergio Davids
Cape Town - It has been 12 months since the iconic Datsun brand returned to South Africa with the launch of its GO hatchback in 2014.
The GO hatchback sparked Datsun's brand revival in SA but was its value proposition enough to overcome SA's safety conscious buyers?
The arrival of the GO coincided with Global NCAP's criticism of the vehicle. In SA it's sold without ABS and airbags, the latter has since been installed in local vehicles.
New models for SA
Datsun will expand its local line-up with the addition of the new GO+ (a long-wheel base version of the hatchback) and the Redi-GO (a small hatchback).
The automaker also revealed a new crossover concept at the 2015 Tokyo auto show.
The Redi-GO compact hatchback:
REDI TO GO: The Datsun Redi GO is the third vehicle from the Japanese automaker as part of its re launch strategy.
It's powered by the same 1.2-litre petrol as the GO, capable of 50kW/104Nm. It will be positioned below the GO hatchback and will take on the likes of Chevrolet Spark and Hyundai i10.
The new GO+
NEW MPV: The Datsun GO+ looks like a stretched version of the GO hatchback and shares many of its design cues including the front fascia and the overall shape.
It measures 1.6m wide, 1.4m tall and 3.95m long with a wheelbase of 2.4m. As with the GO hatch and new city hatch, it uses the same three-cylinder 50kW/104Nm 1.2-litre petrol.
Also unveiled at the 2015 Tokyo motor show - the new Datsun GO-Cross concept:
Watch: Datsun's GO-Cross concept is was unveiled in Japan in October
Read: Tested - Datsun's GO on the move
Wheels24 spoke to Datsun South Africa MD, Des Fenner to find out what the future holds for the automaker in SA
1. How has the public responded to Datsun’s return?
Des Fenner: Our impact has been quite dramatic. We have seen sales of the Datsun GO reach 5972 units since the car hit South Africa’s roads in October 2014, causing the model to soar to first position in the A segment in the critical dealer channel, where it continues to lead.
The high volume of GOs that have driven off our dealers’ floors is testament to the model’s mass appeal, and has done much to secure its place as a serious contender for the future. This, despite the pressures being felt by the motor industry in general.
2. What are some of the new models headed for SA? (GO+, REDI–GO)
DF: New models for South Africa are GO+ planned for mid next year, followed by the cool REDI-GO later in the calendar year (Pending approval) and the GO Cross for introduction in 2017/8 – giving Datsun a minimum of a four car line up within the space of just 5 years!
Watch: This concept crossover, the GO-Cross will look to take on the established players in the market
3. How has Datsun responded to the Global NCAP safety-saga in 2014?
DF: Datsun cars meet local vehicle regulations in the countries they are sold. These models were developed with a strong intention to deliver adapted solutions to the local conditions, from perfect braking performance and good visibility to durability, seat comfort and reduced motion sickness – all being taken as a package aim to decrease potential risk of road accidents. Datsun GO with driver’s airbag is available in South Africa.
Read: Go's 'zero' rating: Datsun SA answers
Road safety is a top-of-mind customer concern and is of paramount importance to us as a automaker. Safety improvements are a never-ending journey. They involve the careful development of measures adjusted for conditions in each country and evolving over time. Making progress on road safety necessitates a cooperative effort among government authorities, customer groups and vehicle manufacturers.
Addressing road safety requires consideration of traffic infrastructure, human factors, driving skills, accident prevention and mitigation measures, and the overall improvement of vehicle performance (including active and passive safety features).
Datsun actively promotes driving skills improvement activities for different groups of customers, including first-time car buyers, younger drivers and female drivers. During November 2015 Datsun launched a unique driving teaching programme in South Africa, which aims to improve driving skills and overall safety on the roads.
4. What’s next for Datsun? African expansion?
DF: New product and new frontiers – it’s all so exciting for the Datsun brand as we move ahead.
With the aforementioned new car line-up planned, we are also at that point where we move Datsun GO into RHD countries in Africa - like Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
We are currently in progress with this roll out and look forward to the Datsun GO being as successful in the whole of Southern Africa as it has been since launch in SA.
5. Will we see the return of the “SSS” badge or a new Go Nismo
DF: We would love to introduce a SSS badge or a Dats-mo performance vehicle and most probably well, but unfortunately it will be a long time in the future.
Our aim remains to stay focused on providing mobility for first time new car buyers and our product efforts will remain in this area for the immediate future.