Nissan started in 1911 when it was originally founded under the name Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works by Masujiro Hashimoto. Three years later, the company produced its first car, the DAT, which was an acronym of the three investing partners’ surnames. Nissan went through several name changes throughout the 1920s, and it wasn’t until 1934 that Nissan Motor Company was used for the first time.
A company called Nihon Sangyou, or Japan Industries, merged with what would become Nissan Motor Company in 1931. The CEO of Nihon Sangyou, Yoshisuke Aikawa, was excited about starting an auto division of the company, so when other shareholders were less enthusiastic, Aikawa bought them out and began focusing on building Nissan manufacturing plants.
Nissan continued making Datsuns, the kind of car they’d been making for years, as well as producing trucks and planes for the Japanese army. After the war, Nissan partnered with various automakers to build vehicles for them, including Austin Motor Company in the 1950s and 1960s and a merger with Prince Motor Company in 1966, which introduced vehicles to the Nissan lineup that are still in production to this day.
1953 was a dramatic moment in Nissan’s history because of anti-communist sentiments after the Korean War ended. Nissan’s labor union acted harshly and fired hundreds of workers, and even had union leaders arrested. Eventually a new union was formed that helped Nissan expand rapidly, in terms of technology.
Nissan started expanding worldwide in the late 1950s, when it realized that the small Datsun would fill a hole in the Australian and US auto markets. Nissan showed cars at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 1958 and then opened a subsidiary in the US in 1960. A plant was built in England in 1986 and by 2007 produced over 400,000 vehicles per year, which became the highest producing plant in Europe. Nissan also has plants in Brazil and sells cars all over the world. Nissan is especially popular in China, where it sold more than half a million units in 2009.
Nissan has been one of the most popular and innovative brands in the world since its inception over 100 years ago. Nissan plans to continue to lead the industry in technology and design excellence for years to come.