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Paris Auto Show 2014: An exclusive interview with Dacia

Dacia Dokker Lodgy Stepway Paris Auto Show 2014Dacia unveiled the Dokker and Lodgy Stepway in Paris.

* See the Full interview by clicking on the title, and all Paris Auto Show 2014 Reports here! *

This is the last part in my Paris Auto Show 2014 series of reports: an exclusive interview with Renaud Pirel, Renault Entry Range Sales & Marketing Director, and Frédéric Favre, Dacia Press Relations Manager. I have never hidden the fact that I am a big fan of Dacia’s brand strategy, that has enabled it to go from 0 to 5 million units sold in 10 years, still posting in 2014 the fastest growth rates of any mass brand in France and Europe. Being French but living in Australia since 12 years ago, I have witnessed the Dacia adventure from afar, getting a snapshot of its popularity in France every year I came back for a visit. An experience I have described in two successive articles: France August 2012: Dacia, king of the countryside and Nice hinterland September 2013: one Dacia in every tiny village.

This is the first time I get to speak with Dacia directly, and it was the most fruitful interview I conducted at the Paris Auto Show. I even got a very open answer to something that has puzzled me for a while: the lack of success of the Dokker LCV in France, and we reversed roles at the end when I got interviewed by Dacia about the potential success of the entry range in Australia. The full interview is below the jump.

Dacia Sandero StepwayThe Stepway variant accounts for 2/3 of all Sanderos sold in Europe, 90% in Northern Africa.

BSCB: Automotive News Europe announced recently that the Dacia range was about to be streamlined, with either the Dokker, Logan MCV or Lodgy to be cancelled. Do you confirm?

Frédéric Favre: This is a huge misunderstanding, there is absolutely no intention to cancel any of the models you mentioned.

Renaud Pirel: Not only that, but we also keep investing and thinking about new ideas on each of these 3 models, so they are here to stay.

BSCB: Glad we cleared that one up. Dacia is up 21% in France and up 35% in Europe so far this year. What’s next?

Renaud Pirel: The sky is the limit! No to be perfectly honest, as a principle we never communicate market share or volume objectives for Dacia, only Group ones by our President. But before I address the ‘What’s next’ question, it’s worth taking stock of what’s happened in the decade that the brand has been commercialised in Europe – it launched in France in June 2005 – because a lot of elements that will form our future lie in our foundations. In short, I believe the explosive growth rates we have consistently achieved over that period come from our capacity to always remain in touch with our customers.

The adventure started with the Logan, which wasn’t originally designed for Western European markets let alone France (BSCB note: C-segment sedans are all but dead in French sales charts). The extension of the Dacia range into other segments has always been decided based on customer feedback. The first Logan customers bought into the idea of a new, very simple car with a 3 year-warranty as an alternative to a similarly-sized 2-3 year-old used vehicle often without a manufacturer warranty beyond the few months required by law. On this foundation, we have managed to build the Dacia brand.

Dacia Picnic 2010. Picture courtesy of Dacia picnic. Picture courtesy of autodeclics.comThe 6th annual Dacia picnic attracted 14.000 Dacia owners in France last June.

Understanding our customers is paramount because they are not the same customers that we were used to dealing with through Renault. They belong to the used-vehicle universe, and we realised that as car manufacturers we actually didn’t have much information about this type of customers. So when we tested their interest for this type of products with the Logan, these customers were actually surprised that a car manufacturer would be willing to communicate with them, they were not used to that. So they weren’t shy in talking with us and we received a huge amount of feedback that we were able to utilise to grow the brand. Based on this, we rapidly launched the 7-seat Logan MCV, then the Sandero, Duster, Lodgy and Dokker.

Full interview below.

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