Groupe Renault design boss Laurens van den Acker says he is surprised that other major car firms haven’t attempted to copy Dacia’s success by launching low-cost spin-off brands.
Renault bought the Romanian marque in 1999 and started launching new models in 2004, focusing on making "robust", affordable cars. Through a major expansion programme – which included rolling out in the UK in 2012 – Dacia sold more than four million cars last year.
Speaking at the unveiling of the new Duster SUV, van den Acker said: “We’ve been surprised because we know the competition will come, sooner or later. We expected it to be there already, so it’s quite amazing there’s still no straight competitor for the Duster in the market.”
Van den Acker said the company’s commitment to keeping Dacia models affordable has helped it fill a market gap. He added: “Renault has had incredible discipline not to raise prices. Even our German friends have brands that start to bump into the brand above.
“Dacia has been really good at keeping their promise. Not all the money saving comes from cars; it’s in the business model: where we produce the cars, the fact Dacia are sold off the back of the Renault network, often in the same dealership.
“It you took Renault out, you couldn’t sell Dacia as a separate brand; for another company to create a new brand, they’d have to create a new network, which is very expensive, and that would find its way into the [price of the] car. The Renault/Dacia business model is unique and perhaps that’s why it’s hard to replicate.”