The History of Nissan

Nissan is a name that is familiar to UK roads thanks to cars that are practical, eye-catching and affordable for drivers. With the Nissan Juke, Leaf, Qashqai and Micra all popular choice for a lease car, we thought we’d explore the history and development of an iconic and recognisable brand. Check out their story below or if you’d rather jump right into finding your next Nissan lease now, you can check out our Nissan car lease page to start searching.


The Nissan Motor Company started out under a different name way back in 1911 when Masujiro Hashimoto founded Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works. It’s first car, the “DAT”, was produced three years later but demand for a small passenger car was low so the brand moved onto developing military vehicles.

Development of the Nissan Brand

After a few mergers, the Nissan Motor Co. Ltd was created in 1934. The name Nissan came from the stock exchange abbreviation of the company Nippon Sangyou which was founded by Yoshisuke Aikawa in 1928.

After this, Nissan continued making cars with the Datsun name, a car that they had been making for years; it also continued producing trucks and airplanes for the Japanese army. After the second world war, Nissan began partnering with other iconic automakers like the Austin Motor Company which, in the 1950s and 1960s, allowed them to develop their own unique engine design. This brand new engine named the Nissan L, was used to power cars like the Datsun 510. A car that gained worldwide recognition in the saloon market.

In 1958, Nissan realised that their small Datsun cars would fill a hole in the Australian and American auto markets, so they began showcasing their vehicles in international motor expos like the Los Angeles Auto Show. This opened them up to expansion and in 1960 they created an American branch for the brand. In 1966, Nissan merged with Prince Motor Company and introduced some of the Nissan vehicles we would recognise today. By 1970, Nissan was one of the world’s largest exporters of cars.

A Nissan manufacturing plant was opened in 1986 in England and by 2007 had produced over 400,000 vehicles per year: becoming the highest producing plant in Europe.

Their most recognisable partnership in their history is their relationship with Renault. After suffering with severe financial difficulty in 1999, Nissan teamed up with the French manufacturer to become the Renault-Nissan Alliance.

Iconic Cars

Fairlady 240Z

Nissan has become fairly well-known in the sports car industry thanks to its Z range of cars. One of the most iconic Z cars out there is the one that started it all. The Fairlady 240Z was a car considered to be near perfect when it was first released, and many believe this car is the reason the Z badge has garnered so much respect over the years.

Released in 1969, the 240Z had a 2.4L inline-6 engine with twin carburettors and produced 151hp. It was a quick car for the time, getting to 60mph in under 8 seconds. It was a comfortable ride with easy to shift gears and a sporty suspension.


Going from the original to the latest, the Nissan 370Z was officially unveiled at the 2008 Greater LA Auto Show. It had a 3.7 litre V6 engine that produced 330hp and was equipped with Nissan’s top-notch advanced suspension at the time. The car went from 0-60mph in 4.9 seconds – a significant improvement from its original model.

The 370Z was also great value considering the kind of car that it is offered at £21,000 for its base model. The 370Z, Nissan’s most advanced and improved Z model failed to inspire Nissan Z enthusiasts and was released in a time where the market was slowly moving away from the iconic sports and saloons of the past. It’s significance in Nissan Z history was lacking – an unfortunate result for the car. 


The Nissan Qashqai is one of the brand’s best-selling cars. Released in 2006, the Qashqai was Nissan’s compact crossover SUV and catered to drivers who wanted something less large and intimidating than the SUVs at the time. It had a five-star safety rating with the best ever adult occupant score at the time.

It’s first generation vehicle has sold more than 1.24 million units in its lifetime (2006-2013). Its second generation (2013-2021) broke the record for the fastest time for a vehicle built in the UK to reach half a million units (roughly a year and a half). The Qashqai continues to be one of Nissan’s flagship cars even as it goes into its latest generation.


The Nissan Leaf was introduced as the first mass-market electric vehicle by Nissan in 2010 and by 2014 was the world’s best selling all-electric car ever; taking a 45% market share sold worldwide since 2010. It marks a significant change for the company and for the electric car market in general.

The Leaf also continues to improve going from a range of 73 miles in 2010 to 226 miles in its latest releases. It was the top-selling electric car through to December 2019, however it was passed by the Tesla Model 3 in early 2020.

Popularity - Our Best Sellers

Nissan Juke

The Nissan Juke is our most popular lease car over the past few months. It is a smart and vibrant small SUV with a great safety record and a distinctive look. A Nissan Juke lease is a great choice for someone who wants to stand out on the road and at a great price. Check out the latest Juke lease deals today.

Nissan Qashqai

The Nissan Qashqai’s popularity is no exception even when it comes to leasing. Our customers have taken an interest in the Qashqai’s new and innovative design with many of them taking on a Nissan Qashqai lease. Check out the latest Qashqai lease deals today.


Nissan is a brand that has a long history; it has had to overcome many obstacles but remains one of the UK’s best-selling brands this century. Why not check out all of our Nissan lease deals and get your Nissan journey started?