Dacia has the potential to continue its remarkable rise under Renault ownership over the past 15 years, says CEO Nicolas Maure.
“We have some more capacity in Morocco – maybe as much as 150,000 a year – and also in the rest of the world: India, Brazil and Russia,” says Maure. “And we have CKD production starting in Algeria in 2014.
“Then we have to look at the model mix. We are increasing Duster capacity [the company’s Romanian-designed crossover]. And we could add shifts in Romania to maybe four or five.”
Dacia’s annual sales have risen from around 80,000 a year, mostly in the Romanian domestic market, when Renault took over, to more than a million spread across four continents in 2013. That was a new record for the company, 26 per cent higher than in 2012.
But the Dacia name is known only in Europe and around the Mediterranean rim – principally North Africa. Elsewhere the cars are badged as Renaults.
Although Renault began to take control of Dacia in 1999, first with a 51 per cent stake which has since risen to 99.3 per cent, the modern success story took off only in 2004 with the launch of the first Logan. “Between 1999 and 2004 we modernised the equipment, improved the quality, safety and book-keeping and did a retro-fit of the Supernova to turn it into the Solenza,” says Maure.
Dacia now lays claim to the most modern model range in the industry. The Logan, Sandero and Sandero Stepway were renewed in 2012, the same year as the Lodgy, Dokker and Dokker van were launched, and the current Duster went on the market last year. That leaves the Logan MCV and Pick-up, launched in 2006 and 2008 respectively, as the company’s oldest models.
Dacia was founded in the1960s to build the Renault 8 and 12 under licence, but the relationship soured and in 1978 Renault pulled out. “Between 1989 [the fall of the communist bloc] and 1999 Dacia was a state-supported company,” says Maure. “It did its best to renew the product and equipment on its own, but did not have enough money or know-how.
“Many companies were interested, but because of Renault’s historical links with Dacia and the common engineering standards it was easier for us to communicate.”