Earlier this year one of Europe’s most popular car manufacturers celebrated its 50th birthday! Let’s take a trip down memory lane and learn how the Dacia captured the hearts, of customers across 44 countries and two continents throughout the decades with great prices, quality models and simple design.
The Romanian government decided in 1965 that they needed to build their own car brand and automotive manufacturing plant. It took three years and Renault’s help to get the very first Dacia built. Named Dacia 1300, the very first care was assembled in Romania in 1968. The Dacia 1300 was featured during the 1969 auto shows in Bucharest and Paris and was well received by the audience.
For many decades it was the only car available for purchase in Romania. Only 2,000 cars were produced during the first operating year and demand was high. It was the country’s flagship car and everyone who could afford a car wanted one. Dacia experienced significant growth in the ‘70s and survived a political and then economic crisis in the ‘80s.
It flourished, until Romania’s political climate changed in the ‘90s, after the fall of Communism and a revolution. Foreign cars started to be imported and sales for the once beloved Dacia began to dip. The car manufacturer saw the writing on the wall – it needed a partner to compete in the European markets against fancier cars. With the help of Renault again, it produced its first new model. Dacia managed to re-invent itself as a “shockingly affordable” car for everyone. In 1999 Dacia became part of the Renault Group, with Renault owning 51% of the company. Many saw this as the beginning of a “new phase” for the brand. A phase of great prosperity. Renault intended on making the Dacia plant its hub in Eastern and Central Europe. It invested a lot in modernizing the plant and hiring talent.
In 2004 two major events occurred making it an important year for Dacia. First, there was the launch of a new model, the Logan. Then the production of Dacia 1300 ended. The Logan went on to be one of Dacia’s bestselling and most reliable cars. This year, it landed on a list of most popular cars in Europe. This is the fifth year it’s been on a “most popular list” and unless something major happens, many experts predict the Logan to be on next year’s most popular car lists again. The Logan is Dacia’s most successful car since the Dacia 1300 back in the ’60s.
New Dacia models like the Sandero and Duster followed and many new plants were opened in Morocco, Russia, Brazil, South Africa, Columbia, Argentina, Iran, and India. By 2015 five-million cars had been manufactured in Romania – quite an increase over the 2,000 that were manufactured during their first year. In 2017 the company posted a 12% year over year increase in revenue and there are no signs that sales will slow down anytime soon.
Dacia’s biggest plant remains in Romania and currently employs over 14,000 employees. It represents the country’s largest exporter, with 90% of roughly 350,000 cars produced there being exported. Some would even go as far as to claim that it’s the country’s most important company since its weathered so many storms and came out on top each time.
Over time the brand has changed from a national brand to an international one. It became a car known for its durability, simplicity, and affordability. Dacia started out as a pet project of a politician in the mid-60s, but to put it in the words of Antoine Doucerain (Managing Director), “Dacia is a success symbol on a very competitive market, which is the automotive industry and it imposed itself as a key player on all demanding European markets, by designing and manufacturing attractive, quality cars, at the best price.”
Let’s see what the next 50 years have in store for this company.
IMAGES – Courtesy of Dacia.co.uk