Renault Australia still plans to sell products from the low-cost Dacia brand here, including the popular-in-Europe Duster SUV – albeit in its next-generation form.
Having first put Dacia products on the local agenda in June 2021, Renault’s Australian licensed distributor Ateco says the case has been quietly moving forward for a market introduction around mid-decade (based on product cycles).
If all goes to plan, expect to see one or more Dacia products in showrooms here, but wearing Renault badges as they do in markets such as South Africa.
Putting Renault badges on Dacia fare will save the company from having to build awareness and support around a largely unknown brand in this country.
“For sure this product we would see as being successful in Australia and would have our hands up for that level of product as well,” said Ateco’s brand manager for Renault Australia Glen Sealey, speaking with CarExpert this week.
“It’s certainly moving forward, for Duster we see a good opportunity for Australia, but it won’t be with the current Duster, it will be with the all-new Duster. We see a terrific future for that.”
By the time the new Duster is available, Australia’s Design Rules (specifically ADR 85 around side impacts) should no longer be an early-moving outlier, and will be in alignment with other regions. This ought to make it cheaper and simpler to bring low-cost European fare here, because it’ll be engineered to meet standards from the outset.
The next ‘globalised’ Duster will also offer a spread of powertrains better suited to markets like ours – more 4x4s with automatics, likely a hybrid – rather than Europe and the developing regions, which are happier with more stripped-out cars using manual gearboxes.
Other potential Dacia products include the budget Sandero hatch (which at times has been Europe’s biggest-selling car in its new-generation guise) as well as the 4.6m-long mid-sized SUV previewed by last year’s Bigster concept, which also probably previews the 2024 Duster.
Expect any potential next-generation Oroch dual-cab pickup, based off the Duster, to also factor into calculations, with a focus on South America but with some obvious potential for ute-crazy Australia if the safety and powertrains stack up.
The expansion of Renault’s budget Dacia brand – a loose comparison would be to look at the relationship between Volkswagen and Skoda as a sort of parallel, though the Czech brand is a more expensive proposition – in Australia would square up with its global aims.
Last year Renault said it wanted to launch seven models by 2025, two in the C-segment (mid-sized vehicles), revive some of its “iconic models”, and tap into Renault’s E-Tech electrification technologies, as evidenced by the super-budget Dacia Spring EV.
To sum it up, the company used the line: “Dacia stays Dacia, as affordable as ever, with a touch of coolness”.
Previous Renault Australia management was once actually quite advanced down the path of offering Dacia in Australia as a no-frills European budget contender, but never quite got the business case over the line, or agreed on appropriate nomenclature with head office.
This is not widely known externally, but is absolutely the case.
However, the French marque last year opted out of directly running its Australian import and wholesale business, and switched to using third-party vehicle distribution expert Ateco, which opened the door for a rethink. Ateco also distributes Maserati and LDV products.