From rags to riches
Dacia formed in communist Romania in 1966 and acquired the basic design and tooling of the Renault 12. Known as the Dacia 1100, 37,546 were produced. An enhanced version with a more powerful engine and twin headlamps, the 1100S was produced in limited numbers for the police and used in motor racing. This is how the relationship with Renault began.
The cars were utilitarian, with few creature comforts. It did try exporting to the UK, but with questionable build quality and rapid advances in car design by competitors through the 1980s, Dacia were soon left behind and generally forgotten by the UK public.
After the fall of communism and little investment in the car maker through the 1990s, Renault saw an opportunity and bought the company in 1999. The plan was to create an entry level brand that could sell to developing markets around the world.
After an investment of €2.2bn into Dacia to update its facilities and production line, 2004 saw the launch of the Dacia Logan, followed by the Sandero in 2008 and the Duster in 2010.
The Dacia secret was kept from the UK consumer until 2013. Renault had seen a gap in the market for a low priced, good quality car for the budget conscious. With a headline offering of a brand new Sandero for under £6,000, the brand has quickly established a 1% market share, but importantly, Renault have let Dacia grow organically through retail sales with little forced activity.