Dacia 'could build city car'

* Budget brand could expand further * City car and Golf rival 'possible' * Model would sit under Sandero...

Dacia 'could build city car'

Dacia could expand its range to include an ultra-cheap city car or a conventional rival to the Ford Focus and VW Golf, according to senior Renault sources.

The Romanian brand, which is owned by Renault, has enjoyed startling growth in all of its markets with the Duster, Sandero, Sandero Stepway and Logan saloon. The oldest of those models, the Duster, is just three years old, so Dacia has the potential for a stable product line-up for at least three more years.

However, Renault product chief Tom Lane has acknowledged that Dacia could look to expand its range into new areas in the future particularly because the firm faces a growing threat from rival budget brands, including one from the VW Group.

'Is there a temptation to expand Dacia? Yes,' Lane said. 'Is it our top priority? No. Could we have an A-segment [city car] by Dacia? Yes. A Golf rival? Yes. These would not be such big steps for a company that is founded on simplicity and practicality.'

Lane even admitted that Dacia could have to look beyond Renault's technologies and chassis to achieve the expansion. 'Some products could require new technical solutions,' he said. 'The existing Renault portfolio of platforms [chassis] cannot do everything we might want to do with Dacia.'

Renault's current city car, the Twingo, is due for replacement next year. Lane confirmed that it has 'an interesting engineering and packaging solution', which is believed to be a rear-engined layout. That switch could potentially leave space for a cheap, conventional Dacia city car, with less rear space and boot capacity than the Sandero but, conceivably, a price tag from as little as 5000.

Lane also confirmed that the Renault-Nissan Alliance is 'discussing' ways to share technology, parts and even manufacturing between Dacia and Nissan's forthcoming budget brand, Datsun.

'We are considering synergies between these two brands,' he said, 'but then, we discuss things like this all the time in the Alliance. With where Dacia is now and where Datsun is coming from, the synergies may not be immediately obvious, but we're encouraging both companies to talk to each other.'

Datsuns are expected to be built at Lada/Avtovaz facilities in Russia. Lane said, 'We are trying to include Avtovaz and even Daimler in our discussions.'

By John McIlroy

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