Despite low NCAP safety ratings and no EV in the UK, Dacia sales continue to boom
‘Enough and no more’ is an appealing mantra that almost nobody truly follows. Why else would you aspire to own a particular brand of shoe, shop in a different supermarket chain or use a certain type of phone? But it is a mantra we can all apply to some aspects of our lives, as Dacia’s surging success shows.
Drivers who want little more than they need just can’t get enough of its stridently value-focused cars: last year, it broke into the top three for retail sales in Europe, on a 6.2% share. Registrations hit 537,095, led by the Dacia Sandero (226,825) and the Duster (186,001). Behind them, the Spring Electric (27,876) didn’t go on sale until the autumn, while the Dokker (44,684), Logan (27,136) and Lodgy (24,526) weren’t sold in all markets.
Profitability is strong, too, given the heavy recycling of platforms and technology from within the Renault Group. Huge chunks of the development costs have been amortised by the time a Dacia arrives, so margins are big despite the low prices.
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Some describe Dacia as an anti-brand, such is its value focus, but its appeal is a bit more complex than a box of cornflakes. By keeping tech and nice-to-haves in check, it fights for buyers looking to spend no more than they have to; or wanting a wellspecced, well-warrantied alternative to a used car.
And then there’s the upsell: literally almost no Dacia buyers opt for the UN-spec white, optionless base models with their eye-catching sticker prices. This philosophy has put Dacia on a collision course with authorities on several fronts – recently safety and increasingly electrification.
On the former, it so far appears to have been Teflon-coated, sales figures suggesting any reputational damage from Euro NCAP’s two-star Sandero verdict (largely due to it not having sufficient active safety tech fitted to keep costs down) has been negligible. The latter Dacia sees as an opportunity. Yes, it now has an EV and the upcoming Jogger seven-seater will be available as a plug-in hybrid, but it’s in no rush to usher in expensive tech when its no-frills approach means its cars are usually lighter than rivals and thus don’t exceed emissions targets anyway.
If (heavier) rivals have to electrify, Dacia’s price advantage could even grow for a few years at least, even if its stance inflames opinion among eco-minded buyers. It also has the arrival of the Jogger to look forward to, followed mid-decade by the Bigster, a large SUV that’s bang on-trend. There’s a notable focus on styling improvement, too. ‘Enough and no more’ is seemingly more than enough.
Dacia isn’t a brand for everyone, but there’s no shortage of frugal-minded shoppers in this day and age.