PARIS -- Dacia is the symbol of a new consumer trend for affordable cars in austerity-hit Europe, said Arnaud Deboeuf, Renault's entry-program director.
"Dacia has lost its stigma as a low-cost brand and is now seen as a smart buy," Deboeuf told delegates at the Automotive News Europe Congress here.
Many car buyers now do not look for the latest, feature-packed model that they can show off as a status symbol as they did in the past. Instead, they want a vehicle with a "good enough" level of safety, reliability and comfort so they can spend their money on other things, he said.
This year, Renault Group likely will sell more than 1 million vehicles built on the M0 platform that underpins Dacia models, up from 953,000 last year, Deboeuf said.
Some 68 percent of cars built on the M0 platform are badged as Renaults and the other 32 percent are Dacias.
Dacia will not build an electric car because innovation is not part of the brand's DNA, Deboeuf said. Dacia cars only have technologies for which there is a strong consumer demand. For example, features such as navigation and rear-view cameras are offered in western Europe because they are valued by buyers.
Dacia is helping Renault brand avoid the worst of Euope's price war as automakers offer increasingly bigger discounts to win buyers. Renault can maintain a higher price positioning because Dacia fulfills demand for value-for-money cars, Deboeuf said.
In the first four months, Dacia vehicle sales increased by 18 percent to 88,255 in the EU in a total market down 7 percent, according to industry association ACEA. The brand's market share rose to 2.2 percent from 1.7 percent.