Dacia to avoid “useless” features and “not chasing NCAP stars”

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Dacia Jogger 2021 munich 2

Product boss says customers don’t yet want to pay for complex electronic driver aids and other equipment.

Dacia will maintain a commitment to accessible pricing structures for its entire line-up, even amid mounting pressure from environmental and safety legislation.

Speaking to us at the launch of the new Jogger at the Munich motor show, product boss Andreea Guinea explained that the average Dacia customer does not “want to spend much money on a car”. “They might appreciate the design of a car,” she explained, “but they don’t go into overspending.”

For that reason, Dacia will not endow its next-generation products with more safety technology or electrical components than is necessary, which is partly why the Jogger will first be available in pure-combustion guise, then hybrid, with no plug-in hybrid yet on the cards – it simply wouldn’t be cost-effective. “Customers aren’t ready to pay” for such systems, said Guinea.

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The same ethos extends to the cars’ functional interior and exterior design, she explained: “They don’t go for features that aren’t useful. Our brand strategy is to focus on the essential without being boring; we want to offer essential features in a cool way.”

This tactic will be interesting when Dacia is likely confirmed for Australia as a budget arm under Renault, and imported by Ateco (which imports Renault). Australian’s traditionally want some bells and whistles, particularly from European cars. Even MG, which builds its cars in China and sells at an affordable price, brings plenty of mod cons.

Guinea’s comments come in the wake of the Sandero hatchback – now Europe’s best-selling car – being awarded only a two-star Euro NCAP crash protection rating for the relatively limited performance of its autonomous emergency braking system.

“At Dacia, we are not chasing Euro NCAP stars – it’s not our philosophy,” she said. “We are very much preoccupied by always increasing safety for the passengers on board; our cars always have passenger safety improved.

“A five-star Euro NCAP rating means lots of electronics, radars, cameras on the car – things that our customers didn’t ask for and are not ready to use. Five-star cars are so complicated sometimes that people do not understand how to use the device and the functionality, so we are confident and happy with what we have.”

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Guinea acknowledged that it is a challenge for Dacia to maintain its reputation for affordability while striving for compliance with rapidly changing legislation in various sectors, but that access to platforms and technology from parent company Renault Group minimises the financial impact.

“We can keep up with the technology,” she said, “but we always keep a second eye – and a big eye – on the price. We always make a balance in what we choose as features for the cars. We don’t have very complicated things or useless features because we don’t want to spend our money developing things and increase the price of the car.”

As such, Guinea explained, the new Jogger will not be available with a four-wheel-drive powertrain, despite its rugged styling and raised ride height. There is little crossover between customers who use their cars for off-roading and those who need seven seats, so the Duster will remain Dacia’s sole 4×4 offering until the Bigster arrives in the coming years.

Felix Page

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