Renault’s Dacia budget brand targeting Jeep with outdoor-oriented SUVs

Renault’s Dacia budget brand targeting Jeep with outdoor-oriented SUVs
Renault’s Dacia budget brand targeting Jeep with outdoor-oriented SUVs

Renault’s Romanian budget brand Dacia has set its sights on US off-road specialist Jeep with rugged styling for its next-generation models, which could come to Australia from 2025.

Dacia – the Romanian budget-priced car maker owned by French car giant Renault – says it wants to target Jeep with off-road styling and capabilities for its next-generation models due in European showrooms from next year, and Australia at a later date.

The company – which specialises in lower-priced city hatchbacks and SUVs with less advanced technology than Renault cars to keep costs down – claims there is “no serious competitor for Jeep in Europe.”

Speaking with UK publication Autocar, design chief for all Renault-owned brands, Laurens van den Acker, said Dacia now needs “an aspiration beyond affordability” from its cars, an order which reportedly came from Renault global CEO Luca de Meo.

This is thought to commence with the first vehicle in Dacia’s next-generation model range, the Duster small SUV, due next year – one of the vehicles on the wish list for Australia.

The distributor of Renault vehicles in Australia says it is waiting for the next generation of Dacia cars – which will be built to higher safety standards – before introducing them locally, with Renault badges.

Following the Duster will be the Bigster, a 4.6m-long Toyota RAV4 or Mazda CX-5-sized SUV that is set to offer a bigger footprint and more interior space than existing Dacia SUVs.

Mr van den Acker said – in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic – buyers are more interested in outdoor activities, and this is influencing how Dacia will be positioned.

“This is where the outdoor theme came up,” he said. “In my view, there’s no serious competitor for Jeep in Europe. Why couldn’t Dacia be that?

“There’s no brand that’s linked to the outdoors, that gets you out of town, which, especially since the Covid days, is becoming extremely relevant,” Mr van Acker said.

“[Dacia] is a brand that’s very well positioned for people who love the outdoors. It gives you two reasons to buy the car, not just one.”

But while Jeep has rolled out a series of steep price rises over the past two years – up to $20,000 on some models – the executive says Dacia intends to keep its vehicles affordable, even as larger models are introduced.

“The reality is that if you start making bigger cars, you’re up against other competitors … So Dacia will do what is right to be credible in the [Bigster segment] without losing its competitive advantage, which is [low pricing].”

There is still no firm timeframe on the Renault-owned Romanian brand’s introduction to Australia.

Renault Australia General Manager Glen Sealey told media earlier this year: “We’re ready and waiting for (the factory) to say ‘let’s go’. They’ve given us positive indications, but you never know until a car is on a boat.”

The post Renault’s Dacia budget brand targeting Jeep with outdoor-oriented SUVs appeared first on Drive.

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