Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. is a Japanese automaker that is based in Yokohama. It was founded in 1933 and was previously one of the core members of the Nissan Group. An alliance with Renault that began in 1999 has led to the French automaker owning over 44 percent of Nissan. In turn, Nissan owns about 15 percent of Renault. Both companies have entered into similar stock-swaps with Daimler, albeit on a smaller scale. In addition to the Nissan and Datsun brands, Nissan also sells vehicles under the premium Infiniti brand. Nissan also manufactures forklifts and other heavy equipment.

nissan logo

The name Nissan is a shortened form of “Nippon Sangyo.”


History of the Nissan Motor Company

The history of the Nissan Motor Company can be traced down two distinct lineages: that of the Nissan Group and that of the Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works. The latter was founded in 1911, and its first car was produced in 1914. This vehicle was known as a DAT, from the first initial of the family names of each of the major investors in the company. By 1925, the company itself has been renamed as the DAT Motorcar Company.

Although the DAT Motorcar Company primarily made trucks, and had great success building trucks for the Japanese military, a soft market led to financial difficulties by the middle of the 1920s. Then, in 1926, the company merged with Jitsuya Motors. It was this combined entity, DAT Automobile Manufacturing, that produced the first “Datson” passenger car, which was a portmanteau of the English “son” and the name of the company’s previously successful trucks.

Meanwhile, the Nippon Sangyo holding company was formed in 1928. This holding company was founded by Yoshisuke Aikawa, who created it by reorganizing the assets of the bankrupt Kuhara conglomerate that he had taken over from his brother in law. The name “Nissan” is taken from the first syllables of “Nippon” and “Sangyo” and the reorganized conglomerate would go on to become one of the largest and most powerful in Japan.

In 1930, two years after the formation of the Nissan Group, Aikawa purchased a controlling interest in DAT Motors. The company was then with Nissan’s automobile parts division under the subsidiary Tobata Casting. This happened in 1933, marking the founding of the Nissan Motor Company. At around that time, the Datson brand was changed to Datsun.

Worldwide expansion of the Nissan Motor Company began in the 1950s. By the end of the decade, the company had expanded its operations to markets like Australia and the United States. The first manufacturing plants in the United States were built in the early 1980s, and Nissan ultimately entered into a strategic partnership with Ford in 1993. This partnership would last nearly a decade and resulted in two co-developed vehicles.

With the Ford partnership over, Nissan would later forge an alliance with Renault. Financial difficulties towards the tail end of the 1990s resulted in the french automaker buying a 22 percent stake in Nissan, which was later increased to over 40 percent. Renault subsequently appointed its own CEO to head up Nissan as well. Although Nissan owns a 15 percent stake in Renault, French law prevents the Japanese automaker from exercising either board or voting rights.

Vital Nissan Motor Company Statistics

Founded: 1933
Current headquarters: Yokohama, Japan
Yearly production: 4,889,379 vehicles (2012)
Employees: ~155,000
Owner: Publicly traded (43.4 percent stake owned by Renault)
Subsidiaries: Nissan USA, Nissan Commercial Vehicles

Nissan Motor Company Contact Information

North America

Phone: 800.647.7261

Mailing Address
Nissan Consumer Affairs
Box 685003
Franklin, TN

JD Laukkonen

JD Laukkonen turned wrenches in the north end of Seattle for a decade, so he's no stranger to the inner workings of modern automobiles. He has worked as a freelance writer since closing his shop in 2007, and he currently covers automotive technology for

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