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Founded in 1911 as the Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works the company produced its first car the 'DAT' in 1914. The company was renamed Kwaishinsha Motor Car Company Ltd in 1918 and the DAT Motor Car Company in 1925.

In the early years the company largely produced trucks as the consumer car market was virtually none existent. Due to struggling sales the company merged with Japanese truck maker Jitsuyo Motors in 1926 and became DAT Automobile Manufacturing Co Ltd.

In 1930 Nippon Sangyo - abbreviated to Nissan on the Tokyo stock market - purchased controlling shares in DAT motors which led to the beginnings of Nissan Automobile Manufacturing.

By 1950 with the company firmly established in its home markets Nissan set about worldwide expansion. Nissan identified that their Datsun small cars could fill gaps in a number of markets including Australia and the highly profitable United States. Success in the US led to the company forming a subsidiary company "Nissan Motor Corporation USA".

Further expansion followed including in 1986 the opening of a plant in Sunderland which would help avoid expensive import tariffs and delivery costs to European customers. By 2007 the plant was producing approximately 400000 units per year which earned it the title 'Europe's most Productive Plant.

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