Dacia unveils electric car amid pandemic’s challenges

By Nicoleta Banila

Christophe Dridi, Managing Director
of Automobile Dacia and Groupe Renault Romania

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 was a busy year for Automobile Dacia, which in October rolled out its first electric car and three new models of the Logan, Sandero and Stepway brands. Dacia, a unit of France’s Groupe Renault, is committed to reducing polluting emissions by expanding both the new vehicle market and the EV infrastructure, Christophe Dridi, managing director of Automobile Dacia and Groupe Renault Romania, told SeeNews.

Orders for the all-new New Dacia Spring Electric will open in spring 2021 with a simple range and commercial offer: a battery included in the purchase price and two trim levels. The electric vehicle will be available in its standard version with two new variants for new mobilities: a vehlicle for shared electric urban mobility, and a cargo utility vehicle for last-mile deliveries with no pollutant emissions.

Dacia also unveiled a new bi-fuel petrol and LPG TCe 100 ECO-G engine, in order to offer a simple and economical range with improved consumption and CO2 emission levels. The new engine will be fitted into the existing Dacia passenger car models Duster, Sandero, Sandero Stepway, Logan and Logan MCV.

“Despite the pandemic, this end of September was marked by the announcement of the simultaneous renewal of three of our iconic models: the third generation of Logan, Sandero and Sandero Stepway with a new design and new technologies. This represents a great achievement for our teams of which we are very proud,” Dridi commented for this edition of SEE TOP 100.

Like most automotive manufacturers, Dacia too saw its operations affected by the pandemic. The company had to close for a month its Mioveni plant where 14,761 work.

In September, however, Dacia posted the biggest increase in European sales among Renault’s brands, according to data from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, ACEA. Dacia’s sales in the EU jumped by 35% to 37,789 units in September, increasing its market share to 4.0% from 3.1% in a year earlier.

According to Dridi, Dacia’s popularity lies in the way it has revolutionised the automobile market by democratising the car.

“With a new purchase price comparable to the one of a second-hand car, it was so successful that it was marketed throughout Europe from 2005. Dacia became the benchmark for a new way of consuming cars, offering the essentials of tomorrow with 6.4 million vehicles sold in the world since 2005,” he commented.

Since 2000, Groupe Renault has invested over 3 billion euro ($3.51 billion) in Romania for the development of new products such as cars, engines and gearboxes, as well as in manufacturing process improvements. The carmaker improved working conditions and quality, boosted automation, optimised costs and integrated new technologies at its Mioveni plant in Arges county, Dridi noted.

“The automotive industry is very important for Romania, it represents 14% of GDP and 26% of exports. It is a big part of the Romanian economy, a treasure. We operate in a competitive industry which evolves extremely rapidly. This sensible context due to the sanitary crisis and these challenges motivate us to prepare every day our future, by adapting to the new normal, being agile,” he added.

In September, Dridi became head of Romanian Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACAROM), which brings together companies with a combined turnover of over 14 billion euro, employng over 113,000 people. Some 21% of Romania’s total exports are produced by ACAROM-member companies.

One of Dacia’s key priorities, in line with ACAROM’s agenda, is local integration.

“In order to have a strong, competitive automotive industry, it is essential to have suppliers nearby to develop synchronisation and transversal skills,” Dridi stressed.

Another key factor that is vital for the development of the automotive sector and the economy in general is infrastructure, he pointed out.

“Road links such as the Pitesti-Sibiu highway, which would offer easier access to Western markets, are very important, as is railway and maritime infrastructure.”

The list of top priorities also features improving education in traditional jobs such as stamping, welding and toolmaking, as well as in modern technologies used in the software, automation, digitisation, electric vehicles and connectivity industries.

Dacia leads the SEE TOP 100 annual ranking f or a sixth year running after booking 2 4.67 billion lei in turnover. Its production rose 4 .2% to almost
350,000 automobiles in 2019.

“Our large group community, the 17,400 colleagues [which Groupe Renault employs in Romania], join me for this result obtained for the sixth consecutive year. Success is always collective,” Dridi said.

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