Manufacturing has given birth to many stories

Since the company was founded, Nissan has given its all toward the manufacturing of automobiles. Through the years, Nissan has strived to inspire people, move hearts and enliven the times. We question assumptions, upset conventional wisdom and attempt the impossible. Looking back on this manufacturing excellence that continues to this day, we have found many stories. While looking back on each of these episodes, we would like to share some thoughts about the future of the automobile with you.

1940s and 1950s








We wish to be a company that supports Japan.

Founder Yoshisuke Aikawa chose not to use a person's name as the company name.

The basing of the name on that of the parent group at the time of the company's founding, “Nihon Sangyo, showed a determination to invigorate Japan's industry overall, rather than pursue personal profit.

Clothing, food, and shelter. One in every home. Datsun.

Nissan started Japan's first mass production automobile factory, which became today's Yokohama Plant. Achieving an annual production volume of 10,000 vehicles, the plant could provide cars that were more reasonably priced than any competing vehicle. This episode shows how the Nissan Corporate Vision of “Enriching People's Lives” has an uninterrupted connection to the company's founding.

Further, led by American engineer William R. Gorham, Nissan emphasized both US and Japanese strengths, which demonstrates the culture of “diversity” that Nissan continues to value.

Datsun, taking the stage.

Nissan's innovation can be seen not only in technology, but in marketing communications as well.

Nissan frequently put Datsun and Nissan cars up on the stage to serve as part of the sets for the musical reviews, a popular form of entertainment in Japan at the time, for which Nissan served as a sponsor.

Further, Datsun used famous actresses as their image character as early as the 1930s.

This is just one of the stories that shows how Nissan was advanced from the very start.

Demo girls break out of the showroom.

In 1936, Nissan hired four ladies to widely introduce Datsun and Nissan cars to consumers.

This was a completely new idea, namely to communicate directly to consumers through these ladies who received training from Nissan as professional demonstrators. These ladies became the forerunners of the “Miss Fair Lady” staff who have continued since 1963.

The evolution of drive performance with each competition

In 1936, Nissan participated in Japan's first motorsports event series, called the “All Japan Automobile Competition”.

Nissan created a special car for the race, the “Datsun NL-75”, which carried the latest technology available at the time (a DOHC engine and supercharger). This technology performed exactly as expected, and Nissan claimed victory.

This episode is another story which shows that Nissan was an advanced company from the beginning.

Beauty that is the envy of Hollywood.

In 1937, when it was still rare for even Hollywood movies to be in full color, Nissan used full color movie film to shoot its product advertisements. That was an extremely innovative and unrivaled step.

This is the pioneer of Japan's electric vehicles.

The roots of Nissan's zero emission vehicles dates back to just two years after WWII, when former Tachikawa Aircraft engineers produced the electric vehicle called the “Tama”. At the time, this car was an advance produce for which the highest performance and quality in Japan was assured via public testing sponsored by the national government.

A cumulative total of 1,100 electric vehicles were sold by 1950 under the “Tama” brand, showing a degree of commercial success at the time. Later, after becoming the Prince Motor Company, the company merged with Nissan in 1966.

The spirit of challenge demonstrated by those engineers, who took on the unfamiliar challenge of building cars shortly after the war, is carried on to this day at Nissan.

Archiveing advanced technology ahead of the rest.

To fill the blank in their technical development due to the war, Nissan entered into a technical cooperation agreement with the Austin Motor Company in 1952. In the 1960s, Nissan leveraged Austin's knowhow by releasing new products for a new generation, featuring in-house technology, such as the Datsun Bluebird 310, and the Nissan Cedric 30. Nissan's flexible and rational approach that emphasized speed demonstrates the “diversity” which Nissan has possessed from the very beginning.

A healthy design without waste.

The “Datsun Sedan 112” was one of the first products created by the Nissan Design Team established in 1954. The practical design gained high praise, and the 1956 model of the Datsun Sedan won the Mainichi Design Award, in competition with the Toyopet Crown RS, for the following reason.

“The extremely healthy design without waste recognizes Japan's current poverty. This is why the Datsun beats the Crown.”

This is just one story which describes the character of the Datsun brand.

Reaching 'the world's number one compact car' in a single bound.

In 1958, the Datsun 1000 Sedan (model 210) won the "Australian Rally" for its class (the "A class" for vehicles 1 liter or less), a rally which was the most severe durability race in the world at the time. Being the first participation in an overseas motor sports event for Nissan, this achieved the goal at the time of "proving the quality and durability of Datsun cars to the overseas market.“

Datsun gained fame throughout the world due to Nissan's taking on the challenge of the new category, and the subsequent results, providing a great boost when Nissan exported those models to America, Asia, and Oceania.

*Australian Rally: officially titled the "Mobilgas Trail 1958 (Round Australia)". This was the longest motor sports event in the world, with a total length of 16,000 km traveling clockwise. In fact, it was such a severe race that it was never held again after 1958.

A blue bird that brings happiness.

Japan's demand for automobiles began to shift from companies to consumers in 1959. Nissan released a new model Datsun Sedan under the name "Bluebird" as a new generation family car that was more refined then the existing Datsun Sedans. This product became quite popular on the market, and became the biggest hit car in Japan at the time.

It achieved sales of 210,000 cars throughout the world in only four years. Thus Nissan took the lead in the market.

Putting an 'auto salon' in the middle of Ginza.

In 1963, Nissan opened the "Nissan Gallery" in Ginza, Tokyo as a place for direct communication with customers. At the time, it was very innovative for an auto maker to have such a facility. Further, they assigned women specialists to run the show room, called the "Miss Fair Lady" staff. These staff members continue to provide hospitality today after 48 generations of replacements.

The moment you see the back of the world.

There is a legend that is still told today as one of the most famous stories in Japanese motor sports history.

In 1964, the Prince Motor Company participated in the second Japan Grand Prix (GT-II category) held at the Suzuka Circuit with a special model of the "Skyline GT" with a two liter engine.

It competed against the Porsche 904 GTS, a pure racing car built in Germany (West Germany at the time), and managed to pass it in only one lap.

At the time, when it was thought that Japan's technical level was far behind the rest of the world, the moment that the Skyline passed the Porsche caused the audience to become ecstatic and jump to their feet. It can be said that the image today of the Skyline as a high performance sports sedan was born from this episode.

The 'sunrise' for the 'my car' age.

In order to answer the call for a car that was cheaper than the existing "Bluebird", Nissan released a new kind of compact sedan with a one liter engine, the Datsun Sunny 1000 (model B10) in the spring of 1966. The Sunny instantly generated an explosive demand for family cars on the Japanese market.

Along with the Toyota Corolla which was released right after it, the Sunny helped push the market for popular cars in Japan for many years.

Incidentally, when Nissan solicited the public for the name of the new car, a new record was set with approximately 8.5 million suggestions being sent in, representing roughly 9% of the population of Japan at the time. This number shows just how much the public demanded a popular car that was closer to reach.

The family sedan that redefined the world standard.

The Datsun Bluebird (model 510) is said to be one of the most innovative products in Japanese history. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this car proved the "excellence of Nissan engineering". The style, performance, and quality of this car set a new standard for mid sized sedans (with its OHC engine, independent rear suspension, and edgy style without triangular windows). Over 1.3 million cars were sold throughout the world in just four years, making it the first global hit for a Japanese automobile.

A wolf in sheep's clothing.

Nissan released the first "GT-R" in 1969. This car was a touring car of unprecedented high performance, which featured many examples of racing technology born from feedback from the "Nissan (Prince) R380" pure prototype racing car, such as the four valve DOHC engine and the four wheel independent suspension. The GT-R reigned supreme in domestic touring races in Japan, winning a total of 52 races in just three years.

The "DNA" of that car is carried on to this day in Nissan's current technology flagship, the NISSAN GT-R.

A sports car is no longer just a dream.

Nissan brought great innovation to the world of sports cars with its "Datsun Z/Nissan Fairlady Z (nickname 'Z car')", known as the most mass produced sports car series in the world. The car was praised for its appealing styling with first class sports car performance at an affordable price, topped off with a level of practicality allowing use as daily transportation. Before the Z, there had been no such sports car. It can be said that this car transformed the previously lofty dream of the sports car into "something that belongs to everyone".

Style and spaciousness that appealed to everyone.

In 1972, Nissan released a "4 door hard top" under its "Cedric/Gloria (model 230)" series. With a center pillar-less/side window sash-less design that is said to be difficult to this day, the car realized excellent coupe-like styling at the same time as achieving spaciousness in the rear passenger seats. This "4 door hard top" quickly began to out pace the competition, giving birth to a new trend.

The "4 door hard top" car combining coupe-like styling with a 4 door format continued to monopolize the luxury car segment for 30 years onward.

Love stories are born from cars.

Nissan began its legendary marketing campaign, the "Skyline of Love", in 1969. This is one of the advertising campaigns that has lasted longest in the memories of the Japanese people, which expressed the sales point of the third generation in the Skyline series (model C10) with simple words.

In 1972, the campaign evolved into a new series called "Ken and Merry" for the new fourth generation Skyline. It created a sensation which can only be called a social phenomenon.

The engine that makes the impossible possible.

In 1979, Nissan released the "Cedric/Gloria model 430", the first luxury sedan in Japan to include a turbo charged engine. In the 1970s, as the automotive industry struggled to meet the demands of exhaust regulations and increased gas mileage, Nissan gave birth to a turbo engine trend in the Japanese industry by appealing the fact that not only were turbo charged engines able to generate great power with a small size, they were also a technology for fuel economy, and this subsequently allowed Nissan to obtain government certification.

The pioneer of the minivan.

The Nissan Prairie, released in 1982 as seven seat double slide door MPV, featured full flat seats in a center pillar-less body.

While it cannot be said that this succeeded commercially in the Japanese market at the time, it can correctly be called the pioneer of the minivan in Japan and the world, which continues to this day.

A world standard born of kindness.

In 1984, the Nissan LAUREL luxury sedan (model C32) featured the first retractable power door mirrors in the world. While the technology was not necessarily advanced, the universal popularity of the feature caused the retractable power door mirror to ultimately spread for adoption throughout the world, not only in Nissan cars, continuing to this day. This is an example where Nissan's "innovative ease of use" determined the world standard.

Let's be number one in the world.

In the mid 1980s, the R&D division of Nissan began the so-called "901 Activity", an effort to achieve the new goal of "realizing the No. 1 operating performance in the world by 1990".

Nissan's new challenge for R&D lead to numerous excellent products, such as the "PRIMERA model P10" and "Skyline model R32", spreading the image of Nissan as a technology company throughout the world.

Bringing more fun to car design.

A "pike car" represented a car with unique and innovative designs which is not always meant for mass production. The Be-1 was one of the most pioneering among Nissan's pike cars, and is known as the first use of a retrospective motif in the world of car design.

With a main theme of "nostalgic modern", the excellent design was praised for blending both nostalgia with modernity in the interior and exterior, and at the time, the originally planned production volume was sold out in an instant.

A car that anyone will look back on.

The Cima (FY31), which answered a new demand for luxury cars in Japan in the late 1980s, became an explosive hit.

The unique styling and high performance was appealing to many people, and is an example of Nissan creating a new market.

No compromise in acceleration or fuel economy.

One example of Nissan quickly adopting new technology as standard is the adoption of the continuously variable transmission (CVT). In 1992, the expensive CVT was boldly adopted as standard very quickly for the new model "MARCH/MICRA", Nissan's global strategic car.

The CVT realized both fuel efficiency and direct acceleration response. Further, Nissan overcame several issues through repeated research and development (power input control, lubrication, etc.) to make the CVT usable in many different cars.

Safety devices are what should really be spread.

In 1994, Nissan announced that it would include as standard equipment the SRS air bags that had previously only been included in limited models on the Japanese market. Then, in 1995, Nissan announced the including of dual SRS air bags for the front seats as standard equipment.

It can be said that Nissan's stance of making new features familiar was clearly expressed to the market at this time.

A new future for cars.

Nissan began research & development into lithium battery based EVs in 1992.

The 1997 model Prairie Joy became the first lithium ion battery EV in the world to be sold on the market.

This achievement came as the result of Nissan continuously taking on challenges.

It would not be exaggerating to say that the Nissan EVs of today would not exist without the experience amassed over several decades.

Full size. Infinite possibilities.

The ELGRAND was released in 1997. It quickly became a hit product as there previously had been no "full size minivan" available on the Japanese market. This is yet another example of Nissan creating new markets with pioneering products.

Go beyond the limits.

The new SUV "X-TRAIL" released in 2000 is an innovative product that was planned and developed with young people who enjoy outdoor sports to the fullest.

It gained the support from customers and became a hit with its innovative ideas and thoughtful design, including a fully waterproof interior that could be used without worrying about getting dirty and a pop-up steering wheel that made it easy to change clothes inside.

This idea has been inherited in the latest X-TRAIL.

A new key that even opens the hearts of women.

Nissan began including the "Intelligent Key" system starting with the new model MARCH/MICRA (K12) in 2002. Since then, the Intelligent Key system has been included in numerous Nissan products. Here you can see just one more example of Nissan's stance to aggressively spread the use of conveniences for daily life.

Cars no longer need to choose the road.

Nissan's lineup of new generation crossover SUVs began with the MURANO (model Z50) released in 2002, and continued with the QASHQAI/DUALIS (model J10) and JUKE (F15).

With this lineup, ahead of its time, Nissan yet again creates a new market where none existed before.

The Phoenix.

The Z-car, which debuted in 1969, had a long history as one of the world's most volume-selling sports cars. However the production was discontinued in 2000 due to various headwinds surrounding sports cars.

However, Nissan did not give up on the Z. It had been recognized by both itself and others as a “symbol of the NISSAN DNA”.

The new generation NISSAN 350Z, which debuted in 2002 after a two-year hiatus, received enthusiastic acclaim as a masterpiece that added modern flair and quality to the traditional Z-ness.

Since then, the "Z" has continued to be passed down through generations, and continues to be loved today for over 50 years.

Creating an age where cars protect people.

The VISION ZERO project aims to achieve zero deaths or injuries from traffic accidents.

One effort taking place as part of VISION ZERO is the development of a "Safety Shield" where the car protects people. Already today, the results of this project are being included in Nissan's safety technologies, such as moving object detection and rain departure warning.

Parking could be so easy.

In 2007, Nissan became the first company in the world to put into practical use the world's first around-view monitor, which allows for smooth parallel parking and garage parking by displaying an image of the vehicle and its surroundings viewed from above the vehicle. It was first marketed on the Elgrand minivan.

This revolutionary new technology has since been adopted not only in most new models, but also in remote-controlled unmanned exploration vehicles for investigating marine resources that cannot be seen by the human eye, and in large-scale construction projects with large blind spots. It brought great value across industries.

This is another example of Nissan being ahead of its time.

A fusion of tradition and innovation.

The Qashqai, a new crossover SUV launched in 2007 targeting the European market, brought an unprecedented SUV flavor to the European hatchback market known as the C segment.

The Qashqai, which has been carefully designed with consideration to the latent needs of its customers, not only has SUV-like styling, but also incorporates Nissan's extensive experience in creating 4WD vehicles and advanced ideas for creating cars that have never existed before.

As a result of its value being quickly conveyed to European customers, the Qashqai quickly became a hit and subsequently created a large number of followers in the C-segment market.

More than 6.5 million Qashqais of three generations have been delivered since 2007.

EVs are no longer the realm of SF.

Since its release in December 2010, over 1 million of Nissan EV have been driving on the streets of the world (as of June 2023).

The arrival of the LEAF has started the age where EVs driving on the streets is a given.

Grand touring could be more fun and safe.

In 2016, Nissan adopted ProPILOT, the world's first single-lane autonomous driving technology, for the new Serena C27.

It can also help the driver steer and keep the vehicle centered in its lane. If the car in front stops, the ProPILOT system will automatically apply the brakes to bring the vehicle to a full stop if necessary.

In 2019, the Skyline V37 was the first model to be equipped with ProPILOT 2.0, the world's first advanced driver assistance technology that enables hands-off* driving within the same lane. The same system is also installed in Nissan Ariya crossover SUV.

*ProPILOT 2.0 operates by driving along a route set in conjunction with the navigation system on multiple lanes of a highway, allowing the driver to always pay attention to the road ahead and immediately and reliably operate the steering wheel according to road, traffic, and vehicle conditions.

“Electric Driving” excites you.

In 2016, Nissan installed the new electric powertrain "e-POWER" in the Note for the first time. Although it has an engine dedicated to power generation and there is no need to worry about recharging, it combines the powerful and responsive acceleration that can only be achieved with a 100% motor drive, as well as the excellent quietness.
As a result of conveying the fun and excitement of “electric driving” to customers, in 2018 the Note became Nissan's first product to top the Japan’s registered car sales rankings.

e-POWER has continued to evolve since then and has also expanded to include "Serena" and "X-TRAIL.“ With the addition of a variable compression ratio VC turbo engine and 4WD vehicles with two motors, e-POWER is gaining more and more support from customers.

Everything is new.

The Nissan Ariya is a new generation crossover EV whose concept was unveiled at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, and the production model was announced in 2020, before being released in 2022.

Not only does it have a design that embodies "Timeless Japanese Futurism," but it also has new features such as the electric four-wheel control system "e-4ORCE," the advanced driving support system "ProPILOT 2.0," and the connectivity that is essential to modern car life. This is a car full of new charm.

A minivehicle electrified.

In the summer of 2022, Nissan launched the Nissan Sakura, a new mini EV that will transform Japan's mobility society.

This electric vehicle, which was the first mass-produced electric vehicle following the Leaf and Ariya, to be introduced into the light vehicle market, received overwhelming support from customers, with orders for over 50,000 units in about a year after its release, and as a result, it became the Japanese automobile manufacturer. It has become literally a "game changer" that changes the common sense of the market.


Our History

Explore Nissan's rich legacy and journey through automotive innovation and milestones.