Dacia launch delayed

* Right-hand drive models delayed * Renault ordered UK postponement * Sandero hatch first to come here...

Dacia launch delayed

The relaunch of Dacia in the UK, originally scheduled for early next year, has been put back until 2010 on the orders of parent company Renault.

The Romanian car-maker is having trouble meeting demand for its new range of cars, led by the Sandero hatchback, so Renault has decided to delay right-hand-drive production. Eire, Cyprus and Malta are also affected.

It means Renault UK will miss the chance to reintroduce the brand to UK buyers at the British Motor Show next month.

Dacia has been a subsidiary of Renault since 1999. The French have turned it into a budget brand to see off competition from manufacturers in emerging markets with low labour costs, particularly China and India.

Sandero prices are expected to start at around 6500, but content has been reduced to make this feasible.

Dacia also makes cars under the Logan name, although these will not be heading to the UK. All are built on the same platform as Sandero, helping to reduce production costs and complexity. There will eventually be a total of nine Dacia and Logan models, including a small 4x4.

UK sales will be handled by Renault dealers. It is expected that between a third and half of the dealer chain will be involved.