By on June 21, 2013


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.

French business paper La Tribune reports that Dacia is having a strong 2013, with registrations up 17.7 percent in the first 5 months of the year. In Western Europe alone, that number is said to be 21 percent.

The success of Renault’s low-cost brand is a lone bright spot in a rapidly eroding new car market. But Renault also has to contend with falling sales of the Renault brand itself: in France, sales of the “diamond brand” (as its known) plunged nearly 15 percent through May of this year, while Dacia was up 18 percent.

The fear that Dacia is cannibalizing Renault sales seems to be coming true, even in Renault’s home market. Why buy a Scenic when the Duster exists (and is arguably cooler in the eyes of European buyers, since its a crossover, not a minivan)? Why pay more for a Clio when a Sandero will do the same thing? Skoda buyers may be tempted to opt for the more premium VW badge when making their purchasing decision, but Renault has no such cachet.

But then, a little cannibalizing beats eating dust.

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16 Comments on “Great News Everyone! Dacia Booming In Dismal European Auto Market...”

  • avatar

    James will be thrilled!

  • avatar

    As a civil servant living in France with a modest but decent salary, I have a hard time wondering what else would I buy but a Dacia. They are so significantly cheaper than anything else on the market and have a reputation for being pretty reliable.

    Also compared to an equivalent Renault, the sight-lines in the Dacia are still quite good. The new Clios are colossal DLO failures.

    • 0 avatar

      Sounds like you’re describing a French equivalent of the Corolla or Versa. I think that’s the wisest niche for an automaker to occupy and defend in an economy that’s making even this segment of new vehicles aspirational.

      But be careful here at TTAC…. you may be castigated for liking a numbing, vanilla, poverty spec, penalty box, appliance grade, antiquated, powerless crapwagon of a car with a 0-60 time measured in urinary cycles.

  • avatar

    VW has brand cachet?

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, they’re fun to drive if they’re not broken.

      The Europeans I know seem to think of VWs as every day workhorses, and I’m still trying to figure out how otherwise intelligent people can think that of cars that were built with 50k-mile disposable gearboxes just a few years ago…

  • avatar

    In Europe, yes. You don’t think we buy circa 500,000 Golfs a year for their looks, do you? It’s all about the semi-premium image of the VW badge.

  • avatar

    SEAT also up 9.9%, on the back of some new value-priced models. Same fundamental forces at play as for Dacia.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Question: will it take a Chinese auto maker to pull a Dacia-like phenomenon in America?

    • 0 avatar

      Ah, what a marvelous question.

      Do you think the Chinese will have anything to offer the NA market that Japanese & Koreans can’t already beat? Yes, they may still have marginally lower labor rates by the time they can make US certifiable vehicles, but what else?

      Barring some Chinese Manhattan Project they’ll never leapfrog current major players. They’ll have to use pretty much the same production technology as everyone else with attendant costs, and even that’s probably a good 5-8 years in the future for the simplest of vehicles.

      I don’t see them as a stand-alone threat, and I don’t think they want to be limited to JVs with laowai though that may be their only real choice. Too backward, too corrupt and too impatient at every level of society to do a keiretsu or chaebol form of attack. They’re still the Sick Man of Asia, they’re just a huge sick man. It’s produced damage to their endocrine system.

      Besides, the big & easy US market that attracted the Japanese and, less easily, the Koreans is rapidly imploding.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        So in other words, we’ll never see anything Dacia-like over here? and better still, do you think there is such a market here for such vehicles?

        • 0 avatar

          I’m absolutely convinced of the market and I think it’s the most important market there is. It’s what the lower-midde class can afford, and that, barely. And they’re numerically superior and divest of any silly demand for excessive performance or perks. They’ll buy what works longest, cheapest.

          It’s going to be a vicious, all-out battle between the established biggees to keep a share of this market. The Chinese not only got into this game too late, but too crippled as well.

          Our Dacia is already here and it’s called the Nissan Versa. Toyota is actually missing on this one by building such a crappy Yaris. They should merge Corolla and Yaris development and keep it named Corolla, but priced like a Yaris.

          • 0 avatar
            Volt 230

            I think automakers have given up on that segment, letting them buy used instead of new, also people here want too much for the money, they want a Civic for Versa money.

          • 0 avatar

            “I think automakers have given up on that segment”

            Maybe….dunno. We’d need an insider like Bertel, tresmonos, Buickman, Dr. Olds, etc. to weigh-in on that.

            But what other kind of volume sales will remain for them if they try to ignore this segment?

            This pickup frenzy can’t last forever. A great number of those sold are already on shaky loans and we’re not creating a lot of professional or high tech vocational jobs for future sales of these now near-luxury vehicles.

    • 0 avatar

      Volt 230 – – –

      As “Summicron” noted, that is a great question:

      My estimate: a Chinese car company may not be able to “pull a Dacia” with ICE, but since the Chinese are plunging forward the EV technology, they may well be able to provide a small EV car CHEAPER in price than a similarly sized ICE car, and that would be a game changer over here (assuming decent quality and features).


  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I just returned from France 2 weeks ago and I saw a significant number of Dusters there and Dacia cars.

    The Dusters are quite an attractive vehicle, the grill is acceptable, but Dacia can improve on it. I think the Duster is built on the Renault Clio platform.

    The Nissan version of the Dacia has a much more attractive grill.

  • avatar

    happy for dacia succes! my old toyota corolla was simple and reliable, i bought it used and put lot of miles on it. i could start it in winter mornings and rev to the limiter everyday for many year.
    then something went wrong and everybody started to put tons of stupid electronic stuff in every car.
    so nowdays if you’re on a budget and buy a car (in europe taxes on used cars are high) you must hope to not have any problem: ignitors, turbos, flywheels, electric windows, gas pedal sensors, butterfly valves, distribution… on modern cars everything seems to break down!
    the basic engines mounted on the dacia are the old 1.2-1.6 they were very simple and overenginered so use more fuel than modern engines but never break. in my family we still have an old 1.2 clio, it only has 60 bhp so it’s necessary to push very hard every gear just to move it. still the engine runs as new and 4 boys learned to drive in that car.
    also the duster is the cheapest 4×4 you can buy, nowdays crossovers are everywere but all 2wd!!
    i hope the dacia lesson will make ppl think!

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