PARIS -- By almost any measure, Dacia has been a success story for Renault Group.
After buying a majority stake in the Soviet-era Romanian brand in 1999, Renault used Dacia as a launching pad for its Logan project -- a no-frills small car that undercut the competition by thousands of dollars. Even now, the base Sandero small car is less than 11,000 euros.
Dacia has sold 7.5 million cars since the Logan's launch in 2004, and this year is the third-best-selling brand to private buyers in Europe. Its "design to cost" formula, which relies on frugal use of existing Renault-Nissan Alliance technology and low wage production in Romania and Morocco, has led to margins that handily outpace the group’s namesake brand, although Renault does not disclose exact figures.
Now, Renault is recalibrating the Dacia formula. "Unbelievably low prices" is out, and "best value for money" is in.
“It’s not ‘low cost.’ We are concentrating on the essentials,” sales and marketing chief Xavier Martinet said Tuesday at a media event outside Paris.
That might seem like a subtle shift, but Dacia executives say it reflects a move across all socioeconomic groups to be more careful consumers, given concerns about climate change and sustainability, inflation and energy costs, and the coronavirus pandemic.
Dacia has thrived in the past year, which has been marked by the semiconductor shortage and economic uncertainty. The Sandero, the brand's best seller, ranked second in the small car segment in the first half of 2022, according to figures from Dataforce, and was the only model in the top 10 to register a sales gain.
Dacia increased its market share to 4 percent in the first half from 2.9 percent in 2021, according to industry lobbying group ACEA. Overall sales were up 18 percent, the most of any volume automaker, according to ACEA.
A move into the compact segments away from small cars, which started this year with the launch of the Jogger seven-seat crossover, will increase the brand’s pool of potential buyers to 13 million from about five million, brand CEO Denis Le Vot said.