NISSAN will launch the Datsun brand in South Africa during 2014, the company announced at a press conference on Friday.

This will likely shake up the entry-level segment of the market, which has seen impressive growth over the past few years.

Vincent Cobee, head of the Datsun business unit, told journalists South Africa would be the fourth country to launch Datsun, after India, Indonesia and Russia.

Mr Cobee said Datsun would service young, aspiring customers in developing markets where economic growth and a youthful populace combined to make "a very, very nice market".

He would not give details on the vehicle or where it was likely to be built, but said Datsun would be "extremely foolish" not to capitalise on Nissan’s existing engineering expertise.

Mr Cobee said the car would "cost less than R100,000".

Vehicle exports from South Africa into the rest of Africa grew almost 20% last year, more than making up for a decline in sales to traditional, recession-hit markets in the European Union and the US.

Nissan SA grew its share of South Africa’s vehicle exports from 14.03% in 2011 to 18.29% last year.

Its exported NP300 Hardbody bakkie had strong sales in the Democratic Republic of the Congo last year (944 units) and in Ghana (2,182).