Dacia range received a facelift earlier this year
Brand director sets out the vision for its line-up, sales approach and EV timetable
Dacia UK is on course in 2022 to surpass 2021’s record market share with a newly expanded line-up, a new brand identity and a steadfast commitment to affordability in the face of price hikes in all sectors.
Leading the charge is brand director Luke Broad, who heads up the year-old Dacia UK Business Unit, established in line with Renault Group CEO Luca de Meo’s ploy to give each group brand more independence. Here, he tells Autocar how Dacia is adapting to the new motoring status quo without losing sight of its core values.
What have been some barriers to Dacia’s development?
“It was more the depth and breadth of people that were available. In the old environment, there was a brand manager, a product manager, and a marketing communications manager – and that was basically Dacia in the UK, with lots of Groupe Renault functions.
“Given the amount of people dedicated to Dacia at the time, and given what we achieved – I’m actually quite proud of it. Now, with more people – particularly in aftersales, PR, the product area, sales performance in the network – we can be across a lot more topics, rather than just focusing on product and marketing, so it’s a full 360 business, really.”
But being part of the Renault Group still holds benefits?
“Exactly. Even today, we are a team of nine people, but we are part of Renault Group, so there are a lot of people who work here with us, who – although they might not be 100% dedicated to the Dacia brand – are on both brands, so we’ve got the full backing of the group, which really, really helps.”
Do you anticipate higher turnover as a result of today’s economic situation?
“I don’t think so. People’s pockets are squeezed and they have a budget – some budgets are higher than others – but what I would say is that we’re probably on more people’s consideration list than we were previously. When I speak to customers myself, they say: ‘I’d not really considered Dacia but I’ve gone to my local showroom, I sat in one and I’m really surprised about the quality of materials and what I get for my money.’”
How is your retail network adapting to new demographics?
“We launched Dacia Buy Online in 2018 but we are now working on really supercharging that functionality, because for us it’s very manual. You have to manage all the orders manually, and it’s not fully optimised as it’s not all linked into all of our systems.
“But from a customer perspective, it means everything will be done live. It’s all integrated into our dealer systems – so imagine you start to configure a vehicle online, you get a finance quotation, you’re happy with the price, you go to a dealership and you don’t have to start from scratch.”
Does Dacia suit a digital model?
“We don’t have a million optional extras like you see with some other brands. A lot of customers face the paralysis of choice: you go into a Subway to order a sandwich and you’re there for half an hour trying to work out what bread you want, what cheese, do you want it toasted, do you want lettuce and tomatoes…? Whereas with us, it’s a really simple line-up with three versions and two optional extras (even that, we’re looking at) so it does lend itself quite well to online retailing.”
But does Dacia’s simple line-up also limit its appeal?
“Given the coverage of the segments we have today, I think we punch well above our weight. We started our C-segment offensive with the [Dacia] Jogger, and the [Dacia] Bigster is coming in 2025, which will be the start of ‘a new Dacia’ – but, no, I don’t think it counts against us. Of course, as brand director, I want all the models covering all the segments with all the powertrains to capture as many customers as possible. But it is a fine balancing act with making sure we stay true to our brand values.”
Does the looming 2030 combustion ban intimidate you – and are you suffering for having no hybrids?
“We will go electric, but we will do it at the last minute when the customers are ready and the market is ready. We’re part of the Renault Group so we have the technology on the shelf, ready to go, and the longer we wait, the more affordable it becomes for us and our customers. You’ll see it in a two-stage approach: we will begin to hybridise at the end of this year/start of next with the Jogger, and inevitably with the rest of the range following in due course.”
How will you maintain low pricing with electrified cars?
“As more people get on board with the electric vehicle trend – including the Renault Group – the cost of those materials, the engineering, the research and design will come down. The reason we’ve not launched [an EV] now is that it just wouldn’t make any sense because it wouldn’t be the price of a Dacia any more. It doesn’t work for us today. But in five, six, seven or eight years – certainly before 2030 – we will make sure that it works.”
A lot of your customers are older, more rurally based and less tied into the internet. What’s the incentive to update your processes?
“I don’t think ‘incentive’ is the right word – it’s the way the market is going. My parents are in their 50s/60s and they buy stuff from Amazon like anyone else. Our customers are used to buying things online. I know that cars are a little bit different because of the cost and the regulations involved, but if we can crack that journey – and actually age, demographic, gender and all of that don’t really matter because it’s just how people buy things these days – that’s just the way the industry is moving.”
“For Dacia specifically, I do see that as a strength, Our range is super simple, we don’t have a million optional extras like you see with some other brands. A lot of customers face the paralysis of choice: you go into a Starbucks to order a sandwich and you’re there for half an hour trying to work out what bread you want, what cheese, do you want it toasted, do you want lettuce and tomatoes…? You think ‘bloody hell, I only came in here for a ham sandwich and now I don’t know what I want or how much I spent’, whereas with us it’s a really simple line-up with three versions, two optional extras (even that, we’re looking at) so it does lend itself quite well to online retailing.”