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Renault Australia says no Dacia

No go for now: Low-cost Romanian brand Dacia – owned by Renault – is unlikely to launch in Australia due to big establishment costs and lofty buyer expectations in our mature market

Low-cost Dacia brand low on Renault Australia’s wish-list

Dacia logo1 Oct 2012

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

RENAULT’S low-cost Romanian brand Dacia may remain absent from Australia for a long while yet, as the French firm concentrates on growing its own volume and market share first.

Though tempted by newly available right-hand drive models, as well as the unexpectedly strong sales across Europe and North Africa of models such as the Logan sedan, Sandero hatch and Duster compact SUV, Renault Australia believes the negatives outweigh the positives.

Furthermore, with a raft of stylistically rejuvenated models such as the new Clio, its forthcoming crossover cousin, and an expanded Megane range waiting in the wings, Renault believes it will soon be in a much stronger position in the notoriously difficult Australian market.

The brand has also invested heavily in improving the customer and dealership experience with the introduction of a five-year warranty, fixed-cost servicing promotions, and zero per cent finance offers on some models.

 center imageFrom top: Dacia Logan, Sandero and Lodgy.

According to managing director Justin Hocevar, the cost of establishing Dacia in a market that has never heard of it is prohibitive, while the inherent low-cost nature of the Romanian vehicles might be at odds with consumer expectations should they be marketed under the Renault logo.

While Renault won’t publically decree it, Dacias often utilise old technology (euphemistically touted as ‘proven’) that would seem outdated compared to the turbo engines and dual-clutch transmissions found in some European competitors such as Skoda.

“We are always studying the potential of Dacia,” Mr Hocevar told GoAuto in Paris last week.

“The Duster’s success in places like India has been particularly impressive. It is very interesting to us in that regard.

“But there are aspects of the Australian market that questions the driving dynamics – a benchmark expectation that the vehicles would satisfy.

“So while we haven’t ruled it out, Dacia is not high on our agenda right now.

“For us, it’s still about getting the Renault brand right, increasing (consumer) awareness levels, and getting the dealer levels where we want them to be.

“And while the product may be good, that’s not quite the issue. It doesn’t deliver quite the level of Renault brand values in Australia.

“If introduced, the Dacia Duster would easily be the most affordable SUV in Australia, but the million dollar question is: Do you introduce a product that is different to Renault’s brand values, or introduce a brand and take all the expenses associated with it?“So the question of Dacia in Australia is not an easy one to answer. It is on our radar but it won’t happen in the foreseeable future.”

One of the biggest acid tests for Dacia from Renault Australia’s point of view will be the brand’s reception in the United Kingdom – the first sizeable right-hand drive market the Romanians will enter into beginning early next year.

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