Nissan’s beginnings go all the way back to 1911 when Masujiro Hashimoto founded Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works. The company produced its first car three years later and called it the DAT. In fact, the company was named ‘DAT Motorcar Co.’ in 1925. This company focused its efforts on the DAT and Datsun passenger trucks. In 1926 DAT Motors merged with Itsuyo Motors to become DAT Automobile Manufacturing Co., Ltd. 1931 was the year of the first small car production for the company. In 1928, Yoshisuke Aikawa founded the holding company Nippon Sangyo. The name ‘Nissan’ originated during the 1930s as an abbreviation used on the Tokyo stock market for Nippon Sangyo. In 1930, Aikawa merged Tobata Casting’s automobile parts department with DAT Motors. As Tobata Casting was a Nissan company, this was the beginning of Nissan’s automobile manufacturing.
Nissan ventured into the US car market in the 1960s. They set up their headquarters for the US operations in Gardena, California. With cars such as Datsun Fairlady, Datsun 510 and Datsun 240Z, Nissan soon became one of the largest exporters of cars in the US.
It is currently the sixth-largest automaker, only behind General Motors, Volkswagen, Toyota, Hyundai, and Ford. Nissan has marketed vehicles under a few names, including the Datsun brand name. In 1999 Nissan entered a two-way alliance with Renault S.A. of France, which now owns 43.4% of Nissan while Nissan holds 15% of Renault shares. Today Nissan also produces a range of luxury models branded as Infiniti.