So, the news that filtered through today was interesting. Dacia’s UK launch in January 2013 is really beginning to look interesting with the news that the Sandero supermini will be hitting the market at £5995 – to become Britain’s cheapest new car. Not only that, but Dacia has announced that leasing deals start at a mere £70 (with a £1800 deposit, admittedly), and £100 per month (with a smaller deposit). Either way, that is cheap. Seriously cheap.
Although Dacia came painfully close to launching in the UK in 2008, to become the archetypal ‘reasonably priced car’, but the global economic downturn put paid to those plans, forcing parent company Renault to drop its plans. Which is a shame, because as a product to sell during awful economic times, Dacia offers exactly what customers want – a low price, rugged construction, and proven technology.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the Sandero and Duster are going to sell like hot cakes. They literally have no rivals since previously bargain-basement companies such as Skoda, Kia and Hyundai exited this sector of the market and went mainstream. And I’m genuinely excited by the prospect of Dacia returning to the UK to revolutionize budget motoring, offering the chance for budget-conscious drivers the opportunity to pick up a new car either on the never-never for a headline-low monthly payment, or for the price of a four-year old secondhand alternative.
And it does make me wonder at the ineptitude of MG Rover back in the Kevin Howe era. I mean, they had the opportunity to do the same thing with the CityRover. One part of Phoenix bought complete cars off Tata for less than two grand, selling it on to its own dealers at a healthy mark-up. The list prices were laughable, with the second-world supermini being sold through Phoenix dealers for between £6600 and £8900.
The original plan had been to sell the CityRover for £4999, and at this level, the margins were still good. But instead, the inexplicable greed of Kevin Howe tried pricing the car at the same level as some very talented opposition. And inevitably, the CityRover failed it sell. How different it could have been had they sold the car for under five grand – expectations would have been lower, and buyers would not have minded that car’s rougher edges.
Fast forwards back to 2013, and Dacia’s success, which will prove to be the saviour of Renault UK – we can only imagine the bitter-sweet feelings of those MG Rover executives who hoped that the same might have happened in 2005…