General Motors took the step of killing off Chevrolet in Europe earlier this year, and has long attempted to position Opel and Vauxhall as mainstream but slightly more premium offerings (analogous to how Volkswagen was once marketed in the United States). And that makes news of a new line of budget cars all the more confusing.
Fans of the W123 Mercedes better book the next flight to Marrakech. If the Moroccan government has its way, the country’s ubiquitous fleet of W123 taxi cabs will be scrapped, in favor of Renault and Dacia minivans.
One of the frequent themes discussed on TTAC is the rising inequality of the mainstream car market in Europe. Since the Great Financial Crisis, Europe’s auto market has not only undergone a severe contraction in terms of volume, but also a radical shift in its composition.
In 2012, Volkswagen began research into starting a budget brand in the vein of Datsun and intended rival Dacia, with the aim of having a full lineup ready for sale by 2015. Two years later, the budget brand has hit a budget wall, and that’s only the start.
After a six-month self-imposed hiatus, Renault has begun shipping “a very low volume” of parts overland to Iran for vehicle assembly.
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”.
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?