Emerging markets have been a big theme at TTAC for the past few years, with our coverage going beyond the cursory articles on automotive developments in the BRIC countries. Our articles on places like North Africa and Indonesia aren’t always the most popular, but we keep an eye on them for a very important reason. These countries are the final frontier for growth in the automotive sector.
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.
Datsun’s first product, the GO subcompact, has yet to go on sale in its first market, but Datsun is already looking elsewhere to expand its offerings beyond the initial four markets of India, Indonesia, Russia and South Africa.
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?
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.
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).
Europe’s car market may still be in the dumps, but our favorite maker of plucky Romanian low-cost transportation is doing just fine, thank you very much.
Yet another bit of bleak data from Europe relating to new car sales. A popular school of thought holds that young people’s aversion to cars is largely rooted in economic factors. When everyone under 30 is broke, living at home and wallowing in student debt, the last thing on their mind is a car. But the hope is that once things turn around, it will be time for Generation Y to get motoring again. At least in North America. Over in Europe (or certain parts of it, at least) things are much more bleak.
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.”
The revived Datsun brand will get its first plant in India. Renault-Nissan announced plans for a new factory in India, and will invest 250 million euros to build the plant.
A low-cost Volkswagen, selling for between 5,000 and 10,000 euros, might be earmarked for China, and the range could include – brace yourselves – a station wagon!
We at TTAC are very excited by modular platforms, and it has nothing to do with undiagnosed autism spectrum disorders or a lack of interest in the wider world outside autos. Modular platforms are the next great leap forward for auto makers; green cars help save cute animals, and thus get all the attention, but guess what underpins the Nissan Leaf? A version of Renault-Nissan’s B Platform, which underpins everything from the Cube to the Clio to the Sandero.
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.