was founded in 1933 and sells vehicles under the Nissan, Infiniti, Datsun and NISMO brands. It is also closely allied with Renault and the two companies share a CEO in Carlos Ghosn. The company is older than its founding, however, starting in 1911 as Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works whose first car was the DAT, an acronym for the company's investors. The company became DAT Motorcar in 1925, primarily building trucks. Its first car was called the Datson ("son of DAT") and the name stuck, becoming Datsun for semantic reasons when Nissan (itself a name abbreviated from its own stock exchange symbol) took over the company in 1933 to expand into automotive building (Nissan up to that point had only built parts).
Most of DAT and later Datsun's cars were influenced by American design thanks to chief designer and engineer William R. Gorham, who was with DAT from the beginning. Machinery and many of the parts used in their cars were imported from the U.S. Early Nissan cars were largely of Austin design (later Austin-Healey) and even import. Eventually, Nissan grew to where it is today, with more than 5.1 million global sales and with manufacturing facilities around the world.
Most vehicles sold under the Datsun name in the United States are now collectibles with Datsun clubs being a part of the landscape nearly everywhere in the nation. In the used car market, however, Nissan vehicles are prolific as owners buy and sell continually. Nissan cars as a whole enjoy a reputation for longevity and durability.
Nissan is a full-line manufacturer and most of its vehicles being sold in the U.S. are made here, either in the Smyrna, Tennessee plant or in the company's Mississippi operations. Common models found at used car dealerships and in classified ads include the Maxima, Altima, Versa, Frontier, Titan, Xterra, and Pathfinder. The world's best-selling electric car, the Nissan LEAF, can also now be found as a used purchase four years after its debut.
The Nissan Maxima and Nissan Altima are well-known sedan offerings as the company's flagship vehicles. The Maxima is a full-sized sedan with a penchant for luxurious fittings and well-appointed interiors. The Altima is the company's midsize sedan and is noted for its fuel efficiency and eye-catching design.
The Versa is the small car workhorse of the Nissan family, sold as both a four-door sedan and a five-door hatchback. It's reputation for versatility and reliability is well-known.
The Frontier and Titan pickup trucks are Nissan's midsize and full-size truck offerings. The Frontier is often sought after as a weekend "get there" machine with extreme off road capability, an attribute shared by its SUV brother the Xterra as well as the Pathfinder crossver. The Titan is a relative newcomer to the full-sized pickup truck market and is gaining a reputation as a tough workhorse.
The Nissan LEAF is the best-selling electric car thanks to its low price point, excellent versatility, and unique looks.