The Truth About Cars » dacia duster http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 19 Oct 2014 11:58:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » dacia duster http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Editorial: The Case For Importing The Dacia Duster http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/editorial-case-importing-dacia-duster/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/editorial-case-importing-dacia-duster/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 13:30:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=918018 Tim Cain’s article on how the Micra now accounts for 1 in 10 Nissans sold in Canada led me down the armchair product planner rabbit hole, though my conclusion was not the “Nismo Cube Diesel in Brown” that one might expect of an auto blogger. I think that there’s a strong case to be made […]

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Tim Cain’s article on how the Micra now accounts for 1 in 10 Nissans sold in Canada led me down the armchair product planner rabbit hole, though my conclusion was not the “Nismo Cube Diesel in Brown” that one might expect of an auto blogger. I think that there’s a strong case to be made for the Dacia Duster to be imported to Canada as an ultra-cheap Nissan crossover.

First of all, let’s take a look at the Canadian market. Behind compact cars, compact SUVs are the second biggest market segment in Canada. Unlike America, smaller cars are the hottest ticket in the Great White North, thanks to higher fuel prices, less disposable income and a propensity for many people to live in dense urban centres. Couple that with poorer weather and the fact that SUVs are very much in vogue, and you have the right conditions for a car market that is very receptive to the compact SUV, even if they cost a bit more than a compact or mid-size car.

Within that segment is a growing number of subcompact-sized SUVs. The Nissan Juke was arguably the pioneer of the segment in much of the world, but the Buick Encore, Jeep Compass and Chevrolet Trax will soon be joined by the Honda HR-V and other nameplates. It’s reasonable to expect that this segment will flourish even further, given that it offers many of the same qualitative advantages of a compact SUV, at an even lower price.

For Nissan, the Dacia Duster, already sold in world markets as the Nissan Terrano, is the sort of vehicle that could be offered as a low-cost companion to the Nissan Micra. Like the Micra, it would be pitched as a vehicle for basic transportation needs, albeit with the added space and practicality of an SUV bodystyle, and even AWD (on upper trim levels). At a low enough price point (less than the Juke’s $19,998 base price, but higher than the Micra’s $9,998 teaser price), a Terrano could be offered an attractive enough MSRP to draw buyers into the showroom, enticed by the idea of a dirt cheap, rugged SUV from a known brand like Nissan. There could be an utterly basic Duster with a manual gearbox, no A/C and lacking other creature comforts that would be offered as a loss-leader/Quebec market special, while higher content versions could be offered at higher prices.

Homologation for both safety and emissions standards would be necessary, but if Nissan can find a way around it for the Micra, it can be done for the Duster/Terrano. Production from Dacia’s Romanian plant would be covered under the soon to be signed Canada-EU free trade deal.

In a market that is extraordinarily price sensitive (Maritz data suggests that price and value for money are leading considerations for Canadian buyers), with high fuel prices, poor roads and even poorer weather, a low-cost small SUV seems like a slam dunk. Nissan took a real gamble on the Micra, but it seems to be paying off handsomely. A low-priced, compact SUV is likely to entail less risk and a far greater reward.

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New York Times Dubs Dacia “Europe’s Hottest Car” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/new-york-times-dubs-dacia-europes-hottest-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/new-york-times-dubs-dacia-europes-hottest-car/#comments Thu, 19 Dec 2013 13:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=683594 Top Gear and TTAC have been at the forefront of giving you your dose of Dacia developments for some time now, propelled by my strange obsession with this obscure Romanian brand of budget car. Now, Dacia is getting its 15 minutes of North American coverage, with a New York Times feature touting Dacia as “Europe’s […]

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Top Gear and TTAC have been at the forefront of giving you your dose of Dacia developments for some time now, propelled by my strange obsession with this obscure Romanian brand of budget car. Now, Dacia is getting its 15 minutes of North American coverage, with a New York Times feature touting Dacia as “Europe’s Hottest Car”.

The NYT article is more of a primer on Dacia and its origins than an in-depth examination. If you’ve been keeping up with our extensive coverage of Dacia (all three of you), you’ll be familiar with what’s covered.

I’ve long felt that the story of Dacia is one that is congruent with the “big tent” approach we take at TTAC in examining the social, political and economic implications of cars and the auto industry. The Dacia story goes beyond that, branching into the after-effects of colonialism, immigration, outsourcing and emerging economies. It’s symbolic of economic bifurcation of much of the West, where the high and the low ends are growing, while the middle is simultaneously being hollowed out.

And it’s also another notch on the scoreboard for simple, unpretentious transportation, an endangered species in a world of government-mandated active safety systems, “connected cars”  and an overall epidemic of complexity. One Dacia buyer sums it up perfectly, telling the NYT

“I like the Dacia ethos, it fits in with my own mind-set. It’s simple, no-nonsense value for money. A niche the big manufacturers have failed to fill.”

I agree wholeheartedly.

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Renault Duster Starts Losing Steam To Ford EcoSport http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/renault-duster-starts-losing-steam-to-ford-ecosport/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/renault-duster-starts-losing-steam-to-ford-ecosport/#comments Sat, 28 Sep 2013 14:59:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=493501 Renault launched the Duster in India last year and it immediately became a strong seller. The response to the Duster was so good that the compact SUV overtook India’s best selling SUV, Mahindra Scorpio, to become the segment’s best seller. All was well for Renault until Ford crashed the French automaker’s party with the launch […]

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Renault launched the Duster in India last year and it immediately became a strong seller. The response to the Duster was so good that the compact SUV overtook India’s best selling SUV, Mahindra Scorpio, to become the segment’s best seller. All was well for Renault until Ford crashed the French automaker’s party with the launch of the EcoSport. Ford not only undercut the Duster’s price by a cool $3000 but also offered way more equipment, helping them to get 50,000 orders in a matter of just two months.

Ford has launched the EcoSport in Europe, although in limited numbers. The EcoSport won’t be sold in the U.S. as the vehicle is too small for that market. The main markets for the EcoSport are Brazil (being sold since 2003), China and India. The EcoSport is basically a jacked up Fiesta with high ground clearance as the underpinnings, mechanicals, engines and interiors are all the same.

Renault and Nissan badge engineer products in India but to little success. After seeing the tremendous response to the Duster, Nissan has decided to bring their own version. The car you see on this post is the Terrano which is nothing but a Duster underneath with cosmetic changes. Nissan plans to sell the Terrano at a $1000 premium over the Duster in India. Doesn’t seem like such a smart move as sales of the Duster are falling so why would anyone pay more to buy the same car with a different badge?

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Faisal Ali Khan is the editor of MotorBeam.com, a website covering the automobile industry of India.

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Nissan Revives The Terrano In India http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/nissan-revives-the-terrano-in-india/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/nissan-revives-the-terrano-in-india/#comments Wed, 21 Aug 2013 14:02:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=500205 The Nissan Terrano, once a fairly rugged SUV, is now the nameplate by which Nissan will sell a rebadged Dacia Duster in India. How about some exports? No, really, why not? With compact crossover sales on the rise all across the globe, and the Duster garnering positive reviews even among the enthusiast press, it could […]

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TH21_BU_NISSAN_TER_1557378f. Photo courtesy TheHindu.com

The Nissan Terrano, once a fairly rugged SUV, is now the nameplate by which Nissan will sell a rebadged Dacia Duster in India. How about some exports?

No, really, why not? With compact crossover sales on the rise all across the globe, and the Duster garnering positive reviews even among the enthusiast press, it could be a golden opportunity for Nissan to enter that segment with a product below the Qashqai (aka our Rogue). Hell, why not bring it to North America as a Versa-sized crossover (we wouldn’t get it otherwise – setting up a Dacia dealer network is a billion-dollar fool’s errand for our market)? Assuming it meets regulatory requirements, it could be positioned as a cheap ‘n cheerful subcompact crossover, just like the Versa is in the subcompact segment.

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Dacia Gets A New Duster For Its 9th Birthday, As The Low-Cost Boom Continues http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/dacia-gets-a-new-duster-for-its-9th-birthday-as-the-low-cost-boom-continues/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/dacia-gets-a-new-duster-for-its-9th-birthday-as-the-low-cost-boom-continues/#comments Thu, 25 Jul 2013 13:11:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=496999 Nearly 9 years ago, a small car from an obscure, nearly-defunct Romanian brand was launched with little fanfare. The Dacia Logan was – and still is – a basic vehicle designed to be sold for very little money and provide honest, basic transportation for emerging markets. Few would have predicted that in nearly a decade […]

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Nearly 9 years ago, a small car from an obscure, nearly-defunct Romanian brand was launched with little fanfare. The Dacia Logan was – and still is – a basic vehicle designed to be sold for very little money and provide honest, basic transportation for emerging markets. Few would have predicted that in nearly a decade of sales, it would spawn Renault’s top-selling nameplate while bringing in profit margins that were once reserved for premium marques.

September 10th (9 years and one day after the introduction of the first Logan) will bring about the launch of an all-new Dacia Duster, currently the top-selling vehicle in Renault’s portfolio. With its low price, solid dynamics and contemporary styling, the Duster has rode the worldwide compact SUV boom to rise to the top of Renault’s sales charts amid critical and consumer acclaim. The fact that North Americans would likely reject such a vehicle as a cheap, nasty car for credit criminals is immaterial. The Duster, along with the rest of Dacia, is helping to keep Renault afloat even though its own lineup is tanking, along with most of Europe’s car market.

Dacia has managed to do what was once thought impossible in the auto industry; sell small cars at a big profit. Dacia’s operating margins are said to be around 9 percent, which puts them on par with some of the better luxury brands in the auto world. By comparison, Renault’s is said to be in the neighborhood of 0.4 percent. By using old technology (that first-world customers would likely consider outdated) that has long been paid off and packaging it well, Dacia is able to make money even at prices far below mainstream auto makers. The fact that their cars are made in low-wage countries like Morocco, Algeria, Brazil and Russia doesn’t hurt either.

Currently, Dacia’s cheapest cars sell for about 8,000 euro, but Dacia is looking to introduce a 5,000 euro car next year, which will likely share technology with Renault-Nissan’s new Datsun line. Dacia’s success is not without controversy, with critics accusing it of everything from cannibalizing Renault sales and outsourcing labor to former colonies at the expense of French jobs. Even though Dacia may be hurting one of France’s domestic darlings, a prolonged economic slump in Europe and falling car sales have put Dacia in an enviable position – one that many auto makers seem eager to emulate.

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Hyundai Next To Enter The Small Crossover Party? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/hyundai-next-to-enter-the-small-crossover-party/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/hyundai-next-to-enter-the-small-crossover-party/#comments Wed, 17 Jul 2013 14:45:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=495565 For all of Hyundai’s successes in Europe, it is conspicuously absent in perhaps the lone major growth segment on the continent; small crossovers. We’re not talking “small” in the sense of the Hyundai Tucson either. Think more along the lines of the Opel Mokka (our Buick Encore), the Ford EcoSport and the Dacia Duster. Even […]

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For all of Hyundai’s successes in Europe, it is conspicuously absent in perhaps the lone major growth segment on the continent; small crossovers. We’re not talking “small” in the sense of the Hyundai Tucson either. Think more along the lines of the Opel Mokka (our Buick Encore), the Ford EcoSport and the Dacia Duster. Even premium brands are getting into the fold, with the BMW X1, Audi Q3 and the upcoming Mercedes-Benz GLA vying for market share.

It would only make sense that Hyundai would be whipping something up to compete in that space, and this was only confirmed by Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik, who told Edmunds

“I think it is something that we have to look at,” Krafcik said. “We don’t have any plans. (But) it does seem like there is a lot of action in stuff below RAV4- and Tucson-sized vehicles. A new segment is emerging.”

Krafcik is certainly correct about the emergence of a segment that barely existed in the United States prior to the arrival of the Buick Encore. Sure, the Suzuki SX4 existed, but it was basically irrelevant in the broader context of the market. The Encore has had a relatively stable time on the market so far – inventories suddenly shot up this month to 72 days, but prior to that, they were firmly in the 30 day range. Sales have been in the 2,000-3,000 month ballpark, a respectable figure for a very niche vehicle.

Small cars have traditionally been less than popular in America, but when wrapped in crossover packaging, it may prove more palatable to Americans. In world markets, these cars have been astoundingly popular for different reasons. While small cars are the norm over there, Europeans tend to like the higher driving position without sacrificing the small size required for their tight urban spaces. In the BRIC countries, the SUV-aesthetics are considered a premium feature over regular small cars. Either way, it looks like we’ll be getting a few more of these products in the near future – Hyundai included.

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Great News Everyone, The Dacia Duster Is Renault’s Best Seller http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/great-news-everyone-the-dacia-duster-is-renaults-best-seller/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/great-news-everyone-the-dacia-duster-is-renaults-best-seller/#comments Tue, 25 Jun 2013 15:19:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=493272 Despite being one of the most antiquated vehicles in Renault’s lineup (at least from a technology standpoint), the Dacia Duster is still its most popular. Through the first 5 months of the year, the Duster sold 155,729 units in Europe, besting the Clio (139,397 units) Megane (133,116 units) and Sandero (124,918). September will bring about […]

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Despite being one of the most antiquated vehicles in Renault’s lineup (at least from a technology standpoint), the Dacia Duster is still its most popular. Through the first 5 months of the year, the Duster sold 155,729 units in Europe, besting the Clio (139,397 units) Megane (133,116 units) and Sandero (124,918).

September will bring about a heavily revised (but not all new) Duster that will address the major shortcomings of the Duster, namely the relatively poor CO2 emissions as well as a lack of sound deadening. The interior will also be revamped to make it nicer than the current bare-bones version currently on sale.

Dacia is now making up as much as 40 percent of Renault’s sales, and the Duster, sold under both nameplates, is riding a wave of popularity around the world as consumers embrace crossovers like never before. But the growth of Dacia is a double-edged sword. Now that it’s no longer seen as a car brand for the underclass, middle-class professionals are embracing vehicles like the Duster as a frugal transportation option – and that’s eating into sales of Renault’s own vehicles.

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Steel Wheels: The Baser-Than-Base Dacia Duster Gets A Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/steel-wheels-the-baser-than-base-dacia-duster-gets-a-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/steel-wheels-the-baser-than-base-dacia-duster-gets-a-review/#comments Tue, 07 May 2013 11:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=487528 Readers of TTAC’s Facebook account know that our luxury-and-performance-car-scribe Alex Dykes currently has his hands on the newest Mercedes CLS63 AMG. One of Mr. Dykes’ current concerns is the fact that the $140,000 Mercedes has no “next track” button on the steering wheel. He has a real point there: that’s one of just six buttons […]

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It's very round. Picture courtesy Hooniverse.

Readers of TTAC’s Facebook account know that our luxury-and-performance-car-scribe Alex Dykes currently has his hands on the newest Mercedes CLS63 AMG. One of Mr. Dykes’ current concerns is the fact that the $140,000 Mercedes has no “next track” button on the steering wheel. He has a real point there: that’s one of just six buttons that my 2009 Town Car does have on its steering wheel. Of course, the first thing I did when I took delivery of the Town Car was to swap the head unit for a all-in-one Pioneer thingy. So now that button doesn’t work.

But away from the world of six-digit Benzos and the most delightful cream-color-interior Panthers, there’s a little thing called the Real World. No, not the MTV show! The other Real World! And Hooniverse has its fingers on the pulse.

This week, Chris Haining reviewed the Dacia Duster 1.6 Access 4×2. This vehicle, as far as I can tell, is a sort of super-cheap Honda CR-V, retailing for the rough equivalent of $11,000 and offering more space than the aforementioned CR-V and more equipment that the Plymouth Horizon America. It has a high ground clearance for the unimproved roads you’re sure to encounter and there’s very little to go wrong:

It is a utility vehicle. It has acres of space in the cabin and the boot, the interior is easily cleaned- in fact I’d probably get rid of the carpets and fit rubber mats to facilitate interior detailing via jet-wash. It’s a car that makes itself useful in so many ways. Though it doesn’t have four wheel drive, it does have high ground clearance and good visibility for gentle off-road excursions. And, crucially, it’s cheap. Ridiculously cheap, in fact, at £8,995 on the road for the car you see before you.

It’s assembled in Mioveni, Romania, just a short trip through Hungary away from the place where they would prefer not to be bothered with the assembly of the super-prestigious Bentley “Catamite GT” SUV. It seems difficult to believe that in an era where we permit China to make lead-reinforced toys for our children to chew at their leisure that such a thing could not be snuck through the EPA/DOT foolishness somehow.

Such a vehicle might not impress anyone, but it might be just the ticket for the casualties-of-the-disappearing-middle-class, God-and-guns working families who are currently bearing their twin duties of producing the next generation of American-imperialism cannon fodder and greeting their neighbors at Wal-Mart with all the dignity and aplomb they can muster. This thing has to be a better bet than a six-year-old Odyssey with a smoking transmission, right?

Alternately, it could be marketed as the next Cross Lander. Romanian luxury for the discerning few who wear Hublot Big Bangs and Tommy Hilfiger clothing. I can see the TV commercial now:

Our scene starts in the California wine country. An attractive couple in tight focus is driving an SUV. SHE is behind the wheel, smiling through recently Invisaligned teeth. HE is in the passenger seat, gazing at her with beatific beta bliss and holding his IPhone lovingly in both hands. As the DACIA DUSTER PRESTIGE sweeps down the road, with the most recently-built Napa mansions visible in the distance…

VOICEOVER: The Dacia Duster SUV. If your parents didn’t get out of high school, you’ll easily confuse this with a 1970 Range Rover.

FINIS

Well, it could work. In the meantime, check out the ‘Verse for the latest on this Romanian rat-trap, okay?

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Urban SUVs: Giving The People What The People Want http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/urban-suvs-giving-the-people-what-the-people-want/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/urban-suvs-giving-the-people-what-the-people-want/#comments Sat, 09 Mar 2013 17:41:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=480646 When the Renault Duster came out, I didn’t have to point it out to my wife. As soon as she saw one, she smiled and asked me what car was that. I explained to her that it was nothing more than our very own Logan, which is a sedan, on stilts. I explained how the […]

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When the Renault Duster came out, I didn’t have to point it out to my wife. As soon as she saw one, she smiled and asked me what car was that. I explained to her that it was nothing more than our very own Logan, which is a sedan, on stilts. I explained how the handling would be worse, how it was less economic than our own car, how the trunk couldn’t hold as much luggage as our car did (but more than its hatch sister, the Sandero can). All to no avail. She listened, interested for once in cars, shook her head gravely, then said the damning words, “I want one.”

She is the target audience the Duster and others like the Ford EcoSport, Opel Mokka, or the upcoming Peugeot 2008 and 500X are aiming at. A mid-thirties, urbanite woman, with a job and a baby. A person with absolutely zero interest in going off-roading or speeding on a track. A woman who hates station wagons, tolerates minivans, but when she saw the unibody, SUV-looking Duster,, not knowing anything about it, decided on the spot to buy one.

What are her reasons? She’s a family woman with multiple obligations. Her commute is twenty minutes one way and soon she’ll be doing school runs. Of course, she lives in Brazil so her route is filled with potholes, speed bumps, radars, beggars and stoplight vendors. Her parking spot at home and work is tight. What does the Duster give her that the Logan or the Sandero, can’t?

It offers her some ground clearance to start with. She’ll be able to run over some of those bumps, float through the broken pavement and even parallel park without thought of scratching the wheels or breaking the car (or so she believes). The Duster is jacked up a few inches more than other regular cars. That gives her a better perch from which to control her surroundings and keep an eye on the traffic and various street vendors that approach her with gusto at every stoplight. When she parks it she’ll be amazed how though it looks so big inside, she can fit it into any standard issue parking spot at the mall or parking garages at places she has to go.

All the while, she’ll be enjoying an interior that is a notch above the regular Logan as Renault can ask more for this car, they can well afford to pay up for the plastic that cost a nickle more than the regular one and throw in a prettier radio for good measure. The seat fabrics will also be a (very small) step above the usual Renault fare and there’ll be some color and flash in the dash that’ll brighten up considerably the monotonous drab gray of most of the cars she’s driven or been in.

Finally, she’ll be the envy of her friends. When she says she drives a Logan, everyone and their aunt know that it’s just a low cost sedan that competes with the likes of a Chevy Classic. When she tells them she drives a Duster, her friends’ eyes will light up and she’ll savor the thought that they’ll think she is such a modern woman, driving such an avantgarde car. She’ll know she’s in tune with fashionistas the world over who somehow can’t buy that Range Rover just yet.

That pretty much sums up the reasons behind the rise of the softcore, car-based, mini SUV that I like to call Urban SUV. They’re not meant to go off road, and to the people who buy them, off road means that 5 km dirt road on the way to the country house. The longer suspension travel on the cars, not only enhances their tough looks, but adds to their comfort when riding along the bad roads prevalent the world over. The higher stance also offers a higher driving position that many equate with safety, not to mention the easier ingress and egress. The big doors make getting baby seats in it that much easier. The Urban SUV is based on a car and drives like pretty much like a car. It’s no biggie for people who have ever driven cars. In place riddled with violence, heavy traffic, tight spaces, speed cameras and little money, it’s a God-send.

Sales of cars like the Duster and others in the same vein grow and grow and then grow some more.  Other makers have observed that little EcoSport and the waves it made in Brazil and other Latin American markets. The Dacia or Renault Duster rubbed it in on the home soil of many makes. Everybody is getting in on the action with their take. Cherokee for America, Mokka and many others for Europe. Even Honda showed a Fit-based, unimaginatively-named Urban SUV Concept in Geneva. They are slowly but surely eliminating enthusiasts’ choices: The pocket rocket, the sporty wagon, the BOF SUV that can go anywhere are finding less favor and funding in OEMs’ planning as they see who is bringing home the bacon.

My wife and the Duster featured in this article are just prototypical archetypes that explain the Urban SUV phenomenon. She is the kind of person the OEMs want. A middle class, young woman, living in a country where the car market is exploding. Potentially, she’s riding the wave of prosperity Brazilians are experiencing right now. BTW, that woman could be anywhere. Brazil, Russia, China, Indonesia, it doesn’t matter. Their worries are the same, they enjoy a lot of the same music. They all watch the same programs on cable TV. Remarkably, they want pretty much the same thing in a car, though what they want is something that enthusiasts don’t. They want practicality, economy, small but useable space. They don’t care for speed or going off road and they want to feel safe. What’s more, car makers want them, not us. They far outnumber enthusiasts.

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Renault Duster Becomes Indian Car Of The Year http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/renault-duster-becomes-indian-car-of-the-year/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/renault-duster-becomes-indian-car-of-the-year/#comments Fri, 04 Jan 2013 15:54:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=471770 We had posted earlier about how the Duster was setting sales charts on fire for Renault. Now, the Duster’s commercial success has been matched with critical acclaim, as it has taken home the coveted Indian Car of the Year award. The right hand drive version of the Duster is manufactured in India and imported to […]

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We had posted earlier about how the Duster was setting sales charts on fire for Renault. Now, the Duster’s commercial success has been matched with critical acclaim, as it has taken home the coveted Indian Car of the Year award.

The right hand drive version of the Duster is manufactured in India and imported to the UK, badged as a Dacia. The Duster currently has no direct competition, but will soon be joined by the Ford EcoSport, which will be its direct rival in the compact SUV segment.

The Hyundai Elantra has been the Duster’s main rival in the points tally for the COTY awards. The Duster and Elantra are in very different segments and the Duster sells 6 times as many units as the Elantra. The Duster’s success can be attributed to Indian buyer’s love for SUVs. People want big cars in India and don’t really care much about performance, as long as the vehicle is frugal. The Duster might be overpriced for what it’ is, but the demand is so high, that Renault has already hiked prices of the vehicle three times since launch.

Faisal Ali Khan is the editor of MotorBeam.com, a website covering the automobile industry of India.

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In Tough Times, Dacia Is Renault’s “Cash Cow” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/in-tough-times-dacia-is-renaults-cash-cow/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/in-tough-times-dacia-is-renaults-cash-cow/#comments Wed, 02 Jan 2013 13:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=472189 Renault COO Carlos Tavares may not be exaggerating  when he calls Dacia a “cash cow”. A report in Automotive News suggests that the low-cost marque may be as profitable as some premium brands. Dacia’s operating margin, according to a Morgan Stanley report, is said to be around 9 percent – closer to luxury brands than […]

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Renault COO Carlos Tavares may not be exaggerating  when he calls Dacia a “cash cow”. A report in Automotive News suggests that the low-cost marque may be as profitable as some premium brands.

Dacia’s operating margin, according to a Morgan Stanley report, is said to be around 9 percent – closer to luxury brands than mainstream lines. By comparison, Renault is said to have an operating margin of 0.4 percent. With most mainstream auto makers struggling to make a buck, the notion that a low-cost car can be profitable is astounding.

Aside from building their cars in developing countries, Dacia employs a number of strategies to keep the cars profitable and the money flowing. In countries where their products are sold as Renault cars, prices are much higher – a Brazilian Renault Duster will sell for at least 20 percent more than an EU-market Dacia Duster, all thanks to the little badge on the hood.

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In The Land Of Wagons, The Compact Crossover Is King http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/in-the-land-of-wagons-the-compact-crossover-is-king/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/in-the-land-of-wagons-the-compact-crossover-is-king/#comments Fri, 07 Dec 2012 15:40:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=469492 Despite being attacked in some circles as symbols of American decadance, the compact crossover is rapidly gaining in popularity. French business outlet La Tribune reports that sales of small crossovers are up 25 percent this year, with crossovers of all sizes now accounting for 10 percent of the car market. La Tribune notes with some […]

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Despite being attacked in some circles as symbols of American decadance, the compact crossover is rapidly gaining in popularity. French business outlet La Tribune reports that sales of small crossovers are up 25 percent this year, with crossovers of all sizes now accounting for 10 percent of the car market.

La Tribune notes with some glee that most crossovers sold in France are infact two wheel drive and unable to go off-road; but that also means better fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions. Small crossovers, like the Nissan Qashqai and and Dacia Duster account for 90 percent of the market; big, rugged SUVs are nearly non-existant. Also popular in France are more familiar models like the Kia Sportage and Volkswagen Tiguan and premium small crossovers like the Audi Q3 and Range Rover Evoque. French motorists are apparently warming to the higher driving position, larger cargo areas and, of course, the more rugged looks.

A list of France’s 10 most popular crossovers can be found here. What’s surprising is that only one model, the Audi Q3, isn’t sold in North America. Everything else (including the Qashqai, which is basically a Rogue) would be at home in a school parking lot or outside a Target. Perhaps the disdain for crossovers among Euro-fetishists needs some re-examining?

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One Sixth Of UK Dacia Duster Buyers Opt For “Poverty Spec” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/one-sixth-of-uk-dacia-duster-buyers-opt-for-poverty-spec/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/one-sixth-of-uk-dacia-duster-buyers-opt-for-poverty-spec/#comments Wed, 31 Oct 2012 12:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=465453 Steel wheels? Crank rear windows? Those features would be poison on a car sold in North America, but Dacia’s UK division isn’t having any trouble selling base model Dusters. UK mag Auto Express reports A sixth of pre-orders have been for the entry-level Duster Access model, which starts from just £8,995 and comes with 16-inch […]

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Steel wheels? Crank rear windows? Those features would be poison on a car sold in North America, but Dacia’s UK division isn’t having any trouble selling base model Dusters.

UK mag Auto Express reports

A sixth of pre-orders have been for the entry-level Duster Access model, which starts from just £8,995 and comes with 16-inch steel wheels, power steering, electric front windows and central locking.

So far, 1,000 pre-orders are on the books; not bad for a budget car that can’t even be test-driven so far.

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Great News Everyone! Dacia Sandero To Cost £5,995 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/great-news-everyone-dacia-sandero-to-cost-5995/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/great-news-everyone-dacia-sandero-to-cost-5995/#comments Tue, 16 Oct 2012 19:05:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=463852 Great news everyone! The Dacia Sandero will apparently cost £5,995, or about $9,600 in its cheapest trim level, when it goes on sale in the UK tomorrow. Full pricing and specs will be released Wednesday, but with the Duster SUV retailing for £8,995 (just under $15,000), the smaller, less prestigious Sandero could conceivably occupy the rock-bottom price point. […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

Great news everyone! The Dacia Sandero will apparently cost £5,995, or about $9,600 in its cheapest trim level, when it goes on sale in the UK tomorrow.

Full pricing and specs will be released Wednesday, but with the Duster SUV retailing for £8,995 (just under $15,000), the smaller, less prestigious Sandero could conceivably occupy the rock-bottom price point. The Telegraph, claims that the cheap sticker is accompanied by improved interior materials and lots of borrowed switch gear. It would be easy to make jokes about how French quality is an improvement from Romanian quality, but our own Marcello de Vasconcellos drives a Brazilian-spec Logan (the sedan version) and assures us that it’s muito bem inside and out.

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Dacia’s Up, ‘Nault’s Down As Low-Cost Romanian Vehicles Cannibalize Their French Overlords http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/dacias-up-naults-down-as-low-cost-romanian-vehicles-cannibalize-their-french-overlords/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/dacias-up-naults-down-as-low-cost-romanian-vehicles-cannibalize-their-french-overlords/#comments Tue, 17 Jul 2012 15:06:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=453083 The big winner for Renault in the first half of 2012 was their low-cost Dacia brand, while the losers were…everyone else. Just-Auto lists the sales breakdown below “Renault sold 182,700 light commercial vehicles, up 0.4%. Renault brand sales fell 2.4% to 1,113,913. Dacia was up 2.5% to 181,280. Sales at Renault Samsung Motors brand plunged […]

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The big winner for Renault in the first half of 2012 was their low-cost Dacia brand, while the losers were…everyone else.

Just-Auto lists the sales breakdown below

Renault sold 182,700 light commercial vehicles, up 0.4%.

Renault brand sales fell 2.4% to 1,113,913.

Dacia was up 2.5% to 181,280.

Sales at Renault Samsung Motors brand plunged 41.2% to 33,244.

The growth of Dacia paints a bleak picture for the French domestic auto industry. Consumers all over the world are jumping at the chance to own one of these well-built, well-priced pseudo-Renaults, whether they’re in India or England. French pundits don’t like it one bit, and are worried that their own auto industry will be decimated by the rise of the Romanian lineup.

And they should be. The Dacias are the right car (cheap, stylish, well-made) at the right time (an eyelash away from total economic meltdown in Europe). If a car purchase is even on your radar right now, would you pay full price for a Renault Scenic, or get an almost-as-good Dacia Lodgy? The middle, where Renault competes, is DOA right now and for as long as Europe’s economy is FUBAR.

But Dacia cars can only stay cheap as long as they’re built outside of France, or other countries that pay enough to sustain a middle class lifestyle. That means that jobs are going back to the former French colonies in Africa. Morocco and Algeria might end up being Renault’s hot new manufacturing base. But nobody thought the Indians would own Jaguar Land Rover in the time of the Raj, did they?

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“Fabrique Au Maroc” Renault/Dacia Cars Draws Controversy In France http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/fabrique-au-maroc-renaultdacia-cars-draws-controversy-in-france/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/fabrique-au-maroc-renaultdacia-cars-draws-controversy-in-france/#comments Fri, 10 Feb 2012 21:01:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=430451 Renault’s establishment of a factory in France’s former colony of Morocco has drawn ire from union officials and industry in the sort of election year politicking that wouldn’t be unknown to Americans. The language and culture may be different, but the theme remains the same; good jobs in the manufacturing sector are leaving the country, […]

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Renault’s establishment of a factory in France’s former colony of Morocco has drawn ire from union officials and industry in the sort of election year politicking that wouldn’t be unknown to Americans. The language and culture may be different, but the theme remains the same; good jobs in the manufacturing sector are leaving the country, and they aren’t coming back.

Renault’s Dacia brand is having a good run in world markets, and achieved a bit of notoriety when Top Gear’s James May professed his undying love for the Dacia Sandero compact hatchback. Renault has even gone as far as killing off half of their UK lineup, replacing the missing vehicles with Dacia cars instead.

A factory in Tangiers, Morocco was established to help build the new 7-seater Dacia Lodgy minivan, which will cost half as much as its Renault equivalent, the Scenic. The plant will also build a replacement for the Logan, and will be able to produce as much as 400,000 cars annually. Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn denied that the Lodgy would cannibalize sales of the Scenic, but the plant’s announcement seems to have struck a nerve in France.

Dacia’s are currently built in Romania, an EU member state, where workers earn 450 euro per month. While a French worker in a Renault factory earns about 1,800 euro, employees at the Moroccan plant will only take home ,250 per month. One columnist in French paper Le Dauphiné Libéré noted that Moroccan workers won’t even be able to buy the cars they produce with that wage. But the Tangiers plant is right near a major port, and Morocco, a relatively poor country will benefit from the 6,000 jobs added by the plant alone.

Meanwhile, Europe is in the throes of an economic crisis with the potential to destabilize the entire continent – and France, along with Germany, are doing the most to bring the EU out of its tailspin. France is in an election year, with Socialist leader Francois Hollande making headway against current leader Nicolas Sarkozy. Not surprisingly, union leaders are giving the government (a 15 percent stakeholder in Renault) some merde royale. “We see this factory as a dangerous development,” said Fabien Gache, head of French labor union CGT. “These vehicles are basically…[Dacia branded] Scenics and Kangoos,” Gache said. “They’re bound to hit the Renault brand’s market share.” Even a former cabinet minister for Sarkozy has accused Renault of “social dumping in Morocco“.

Renault is estimated to produce 30 percent of its vehicles in its home market of France. Working in a Renault factory and taking advantage of the French welfare state’s generous benefits used to be a ticket to a solid middle class life in France, but the rise of “l’hexagone” (Dacia) in favor of “le diamant” (Renault) represents a symbolic threat to a former way of life that came to be seen as a birthright in not just France but much of Europe. Ghosn went as far as to say that he never even dreamed of building a Dacia factory in Western Europe, as it would be incompatible with the idea of a “low-cost” vehicle. The Dacia Duster is a major success in France, but it could never be built with workers earning 1,800 euro a month and taking 5 weeks paid vacation. Dacia’s market share has risen as Renault’s has fallen – and why wouldn’t it when the economy is in a toilet, and one can buy a Renault-engineered vehicle for half price compared to the “brand name” version?

 

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