Renault may be gearing up for the UK market launch of Dacia, but as senior company officials have warned this week, a permanent place for the Romanian budget brand in our showrooms is far from certain.
At the international press launch of the new Sandero and Sandero Stepway, in response to questions about the robustness of the firm’s strict 'no discounts' policy on sales, Renault UK and Dacia representatives launched an impassioned defence of a philosophy by which models will be marketed and sold at low list prices - but absolutely no lower.
It’s a strategy that runs contrary to the way that many volume-brand cars are sold in Britain – through either dealer- or manufacturer-funded list price offers. "It’s a key part of the Dacia brand: transparent value-for-money," said Renault UK managing director Thierry Sybord. "And we won’t kill the brand for Britain. I believe that buyers in the UK will respond to the simplicity of buying a Dacia — but if I’m wrong, we will just pull out."
Renault’s plan for the UK rollout of Dacia is a tentative one, made possible by the global success of Dacia, and the lack of pressure to push cars into the market. Every Renault dealer in the country has bought into the Dacia franchise, and will represent the brand either by a specially branded ‘Dacia Corner’ in their showrooms or with external ‘Dacia Boxes’ on the forecourt.
But cars will not be kept in stock in the UK — every one will be the product of an individual customer order, with lead times of between three- and six months expected. For that reason, and because Dacia orders will not count towards dealer sales bonuses, the kind of deals sometimes seen with other brands – often struck to deliver volume-related sales rewards or to manage supply – won’t be necessary.
It isn’t for Renault to rule outright on how dealers should sell Dacias, and a spokesperson did admit that, with more richly equipped cars, those dealers will have a little bargaining room. But the same source confirmed that dealer margin on entry-level Access models is very low – a deliberate tactic to motivate them to ‘up-sell’. There are also special sales rewards for cars sold with extended five- and seven-year warranties.
Renault UK is aiming to secure one per cent of the UK new car market with its Dacia brand in 2013 – an ambition that will amount to selling just short of 20,000 cars, through a dealer network that will expand to just under 150 showrooms this month. There are already 1700 confirmed orders for the Duster compact SUV, which will be made in right-hand-drive form at Renault-Nissan’s Chennai plant, in India. Right-hand drive Sanderos and Sandero Stepways will be built in Pitesti, Romania.