France: Dacia, king of the countryside – Photo report

Dacia Duster in La Foux d’Allos, France August 2012.

* See the entire photo report by clicking on the title! *

When Renault relaunched Romanian brand Dacia in 2004 with the Logan, there were no plans to import the ‘5,000 euro car’ in France. But the French wanted it, so Renault launched it to great success in 2005. The rest is history: Dacia now regularly ranks #5 brand in the country behind the 3 French marques and Volkswagen and it is even more popular when you look at private sales only, with the Duster ranking #5 and the Sandero #9 over the first 6 months of 2012.

Dacia Duster in Allos, France August 2012

Now that I am spending a couple of weeks in France I thought I’d look into this success a little bit further for you. I had read and heard that the French areas where Dacia was the most successful was the countryside. Is that true? Hell yeah!

Dacia Duster in Entrevaux, France August 2012 

Today I travelled for an entire day in the pre-Alps, North of Nice in the South of France, going through little villages like St Vallier, Escragnolles, Castellane, Allos and Entrevaux. So this is a very small sample but I believe still representative of the French countryside as a whole. And all these very picturesque villages had at least 2 or 3 Dacia Duster parked somewhere!

Petanque, dog, mineral water, Duster… It doesn’t get more French than that! Oh wait…

Having lived in Australia for the last 10 years it was really hard for me to believe how fast and effectively the Dacia brand has managed to immerse itself in the French countryside. I had my doubts regarding Renault’s ability to maintain Dacia with such lower prices without cannibalising its main brand….

Dacia Logan MCV in Allos, France August 2012 (and my Mum in the background)

But the more I talk to consumers and professionals the more I realise that the two brands actually don’t compete with each other at all, as in not many people who came into a Renault dealership wanting a Renault would come out with a Dacia as the ‘concept’ of the two brands is just too radically different.

Dacia Logan Pick-up in La Foux d’Allos, France August 2012

Modelwise, the whole Dacia range is present in droves in the French countryside, starting with the Logan sedan, but the Logan MCV (station wagon) is much more frequent, and I even saw my very first Logan Pick-up! As I said above the Duster is literally everywhere. I am trying to get my hands on models ranking by region/department for France so this can be confirmed but I would bet that the Duster is within the Top 3 best-sellers in the French countryside overall, possibly even higher.

Dacia Sandero in Villars-sur-Var, France August 2012 

The Sandero is there too, but relatively less frequent than in the cities and I haven’t spotted any Lodgy or Dokker yet but no doubt they will swarm in all these mountain roads within a few months…

Renault Kangoo in La  Foux d’Allos, France August 2012.

Other models that to my eyes were over-represented in the countryside I went through today were the Renault Kangoo, a veteran best-seller in these regions that would now be threatened by the Duster, the Nissan Qashqai which unsurprisingly hit its highest ever monthly ranking in France last month at #14 but should be well within the Top 10 in the countryside, the Citroen Nemo, C4 new generation and Peugeot 508.

* Many thanks to my dear Mum and Dad for their patience *

The entire photo report is below the Qashqai pic, just click on ‘Read more’.

The Nissan Qashqai is a very common sight in the French countryside

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