The Renault group has basically redesigned all three of its brands recently. Alpine remains sporty, but will gradually have to take the path of electrification, Renault announced at the end of last year that it will start selling exclusively fully electric cars in Europe by 2030.
Dacia is at a slightly lower level of the market, but it is still extremely strong – in Europe it is the second best-selling brand to private clients, the Sandero model has been the best-selling car to individuals since 2017, and in the period from January to September of this year, sales grew year-on-year by almost 17%.
It achieves this thanks to a persistent strategy of offering what the customer really needs – but nothing more – at the lowest possible price. It does not need electrically adjustable seats, because they are not necessary, they increase the price of the car and also increase its weight. And the lighter the car, the weaker the engine, the smaller and lighter it can have brakes, etc. – and the lower the fuel consumption and CO emissions2 shows in standardized testing.
This further delays the need for electrification, which – again – increases production costs and increases the weight of the car. And so it sends cars in that endless vicious circle in the opposite direction that Dacia is trying to walk in. “We want Dacia to continue to offer the right car at the right price, as it has always done,” says Xavier Martinet, the brand’s senior vice president for marketing, sales and operations.
Nevertheless, Dacia already offers an electrified system. On the one hand, there is the Spring model, which is selling like hotcakes in Europe. In our country, its price and capabilities are too expensive compared to other dacias, but many European countries offer high subsidies for the purchase of an electric car, which significantly reduce its purchase price from the pockets of other taxpayers.
|In France, for example, the Dacia Spring costs from 15,800 euros (390,000 crowns), but after deducting a subsidy of 5,000 euros (123,000 crowns). This is still more than the sandero, but comparable to the Stepway sander, which starts at 15,100 euros (373,000 crowns).|
|In the Czech Republic, where subsidies for the purchase of electric cars for individuals do not exist, the Spring is available from 576,400 crowns (the price list only includes the full Extreme equipment, which in France costs from 17,300 euros, i.e. 427,000 crowns, after deducting the 5,000 crown subsidy). Sandero Stepway, on the other hand, starts at 361 thousand crowns, or in the Extreme version for 417 thousand crowns.|
|Spring has an old technical base, originating from developing Asian countries. It is a rebadged Chinese Renault City K-ZE, which in turn is an electric version of the Kwid, developed in the mid-1990s for the Indian market.|
Does Dacia want to continue on the subject of electrification along a similar path as with Spring, for example with the Sandero model, which, according to the older words of the brand’s CEO Denis Le Vot, will be an electric car in its next generation? According to Martinet, there is demand in Europe for an electric car with a basic price of up to 25,000 euros, i.e. 617,000 crowns.
Automobile companies have yet to come up with such a car in a way that does not require cheap technology intended for developing countries; Citroën follows the same path with the recently revealed ë-C3. According to Martinet, it is still too early to investigate what technology the next generation sander will have – its arrival on the market is a matter of 2027-2029. Quite possibly, it will also have various drive options, including electric, added the vice president.
The next Duster will offer a hybrid, but not a diesel
Dacia wants to gradually add more models, more hybrids, more electrification to the offer. However, according to Martinet, the question is when he will do it, and it is not a technical question, but an economic one – when it will pay off, when it will be affordable enough for the customer.
The first dacia with the possibility of a hybrid drive is the Jogger model; it is not yet sold in the Czech Republic, but it will start soon, and a quarter of the newly ordered joggers in Europe are already with a hybrid drive. As a hybrid, it is the cheapest in its class – in France it starts at 24,900 euros, i.e. 614 thousand crowns.
The new generation Duster, which should be revealed later this year, will share the CMF-B platform with the jogger and will also offer a hybrid drive. In the same way, we can expect all-wheel drive – according to Martinet, four-wheel drive remains in the DNA of the Dacia brand, but he did not reveal whether the 4×4 drive can be combined with a hybrid drive system.
|The hybrid system in the Dacia Jogger is taken over from Renault – it is a technique that Renault calls E-Tech. The internal combustion engine is a 1.6-liter non-turbocharged gasoline four-cylinder that works with a so-called multi-mode automatic transmission. It does not have a friction clutch, synchronization rings or a hydrodynamic torque converter.|
|Instead of them, it has tooth clutches and an auxiliary electric motor, which takes care of matching the speeds of individual gears when changing gears. There are four for the internal combustion engine and two for the electric motor. At low speeds, the car drives briskly like an electric car thanks to the immediate availability of the electric motor’s torque, at higher speeds, on the contrary, it uses an internal combustion engine – and it takes a long time to change gears.|
What the next duster won’t offer is a diesel engine. And since the current Duster is the last Dacia in the range with a turbodiesel, this most likely means the end of diesel for the Dacia brand. On the contrary, the brand continues to count on the LPG drive, and according to Martinet, it is the gas drive together with the hybrid that will be sufficient substitutes for diesel engines.
Martinet identified LPG as a good way to reduce the burden on the environment. “When we say we’ll be the last to sell internal combustion engines, we’re not saying we want to pollute the environment,” pointed out Martinet and added that this is precisely why LPG will play an additional but important role in the brand’s portfolio.
Real security is more important than test stars
In the spirit of the aforementioned effort to offer what is really necessary, but nothing extra, the automaker is also not too bothered by the fact that it does not get the full number of stars in the Euro NCAP safety tests. In them, the passive safety of the car plays an increasingly minor role – in recent years, electronic driving assistants have become more important. These are expensive and, according to Dacia, not absolutely necessary, so they are simply not in their cars.
This costs her stars; not the fact that the passive safety of dacias is lousy. “Spring has one star, but does that mean it’s dangerous? Meets all homologation requirements, has 6 airbags,” outlines Martinet, adding that due to the tightening and expansion of Euro NCAP requirements, a car that had five stars eight years ago may get one today.