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Logan won’t run Down Under

Off Renault's agenda: Dacia Logan has been a smash-hit in Europe.

Romanian-built cheap family sedan out of step with Renault’s sub-prestige brand

Dacia logo6 Sep 2007

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

RENAULT Australia will not introduce the Dacia Logan into Australia for the time being.

While taking a ‘never say never’ approach to all product-related aspects of the business, Renault Australia managing director Rudi Koenig is clear about which vehicles would suit the company’s image in Australia.

“The Dacia products were designed primarily for emerging markets,” Mr Koenig explained.

“And is a fantastic step-up for people who have driven vehicles such as Trabants. For this market – yes, we could sell Dacias in this market if the price is right.

“Because relative to other product in this price level, they are very good product. However, here we are promoting Renault as a sub-prestige brand in Australia – with all the safety features like airbags and ESP stability control – and we are trying to establish Renault as a brand name.

“If I am to bring in Dacia product under the Renault umbrella, then what does that do to my credibility as far as Renault goes if – at the price point it would have to be at – it does not have all the safety features that support that? “So there will always be that little bit of a dilemma." Mr Koenig admits that he will be watching Volkswagen very closely with its Skoda brand in Australia.

“The only way we can bring it in would be like what Volkswagen is doing with Skoda – bring Dacia in as a separate sub-brand.

However, he reveals that the Renault brand is not strong enough to support a sub-brand like Volkswagen can.

“We’re almost a sub-brand right now, so to me it’s a bit inconceivable to have a sub-brand for a brand that is only selling around 3000 cars a year.

“Now in the future, as our volume grows and our market presence grows, then that could change.

“Volkswagen are much more mature in this market than Renault, so they are leading the way." Nevertheless, Mr Koenig would not completely rule out the eventuality of Dacia ever arriving in Australia.

“Still, we would never say never, because if somebody could say to me 'I could get you a $10,000 car', then there is obviously a different market.

“(However) if somebody says to me that you could bring in a Dacia for $15,000 or $16,000 or $17,000 or $18,000... I’d say that people are buying a lot of Japanese product for $14,000 or $15,000 and they are a lot more sophisticated products, so for a customer what does that offer... a bigger car for the same price? I don’t think that’s going to do it.

The Renault boss says that there was plenty of initial excitement for the Dacia Logan when the model was first announced in 2005.

“We had a lot of calls for the car when it was first launched as the five-thousand Euro car, and that a lot of people we ready to put down their five-thousand dollars.

“But we said ‘No, that is nine thousand Australian dollars (at the time), and they are only built in left-hand drive only at the moment anyway.

“(Still) you never say no because things could change, but Dacia does not keep in with the Renault profile." The Logan is derived from pensioned off Renault parts underneath – relating mostly to the previous-generation Clio and even extending to the R19 small car of the early 1990s.

However, despite this, the Romanian-built four-door Logan sedan and Logan LCV wagon range has taken Europe by storm, selling well-beyond initial forecasts, mostly on the strength of value-for-money pricing.

With a far prettier grille, it is also sold as the Nissan Aprio in some markets.

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