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10 years of cheap cars in Germany: Dacia's recipe for success

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10 years of Dacia in Germany
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When Alexander Bloch drove the Dacia Logan for the first time, there were cigarette advertisements in our magazine. Man, that must have been a long time. And indeed: The first test of a Dacia took place at a uto motor und sport in 2004 - one year before the official start of sales in Germany.

One sentence stands out in particular, which is still valid eleven years later: 'The Logan is a very inexpensive means of transport, one that the competition cannot currently answer.'

The Renault subsidiary is still offering its vehicles at an unbeatable competitive price; even an SUV is included. And: the competition still has no answer. The Dacia brand builds cars for the people. Originally conceived for Eastern Europe and South America, the 'status symbols for people who do not need a status symbol' have also been available in Germany for ten years - and have been successful. We look behind the secrets of the Romanian brand.

'Dacia is a complete system, not a product range'

What were the reasons for Renault to bring their cheap brand to Western Europe? Let's take a closer look at the Romanian manufacturer: In 1968, Renault decided to invest in the Dacia plant in Pitesti and to build cars for emerging countries. The fact that production was carried out outside France in Pitesti, Romania, among other things, reduced the costs to a minimum.

The wages for the factory workers are still well below the EU average, which is still worthy of criticism. Meanwhile, customers are happy about the low prices. But this is not only due to the low wages. The effort involved in shaping the simply designed body panels is deliberately kept low, the materials are in part as simple as the technology. Dacias mostly drive with Renault technology that has long been written off.

Renault boss Carlos Ghosn sees this as a crucial point for the successful development of a cheap vehicle: 'Dacia is not just a range of vehicles, it is a complex system.' That has to be trimmed completely for cost efficiency, too much engineering input is harmful to him. That is why the first Logan was sold without ESP, without radio, without air conditioning - but not in Western Europe, but in Russia and the Eastern Bloc countries.

And the competition doubted

The automotive industrydoubted that this strategy could also be successful in Western Europe. Many were more likely to expect a Romanian Tata Nano: a ridiculous cheap vehicle with bad crash test results and the driving dynamics of a shopping cart. It turned out differently - but not immediately. For a long time Dacia was successful in countries like Russia and Romania - the people there wanted a reliable, affordable vehicle that could get them from A to B. No more, no less.

Some customers and dealers in Germany also found this interesting. 'Little by little, some buyers imported their Dacias to Germany,' said Renault board member Reinhard Zirpel in an interview with the Automobilwoche newspaper. 'That surprised us a bit. We looked at it for a while.' Soon the decision was made to officially bring the cars to Germany.

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