Dacia Lodgy 2013
Romanian automaker finally unveiled its long-awaited Lodgy at the Geneva motor show this week. The 7-seater looks set to once again change the game in the lower end of the MPV market.
Apart from a 1.6-litre petrol engine and a 1.5-litre diesel alternative, little is known about the Lodgy despite it having been showcased for some time. Aside from the engine sizes that will be made available, we know it will come in both a 5-seater and a 7-seater version.
Dacia has also revealed that right-hand drive versions for the UK market may not be made available when the vehicles first roll off the production line at the company’s factory in Tangier in Morocco.
The Dacia Brand
Word is that the Lodgy will first be sold in Dacia’s domestic market, Romania, from June this year. Then the plan is to roll out sales across the rest of continental Europe with a likely focus on France, Germany and Italy, as has been the case in the past. In the UK, Dacia is still to launch its brand, a move that is due sometime in 2013, meaning the opening of sales of the Lodgy on these shores remains unclear. Indications are that Dacia may make the 7-seater available through its partner Renault in the short term until the brand launch is ready to go. Dacia is tipped to first offer an SUV, the Duster and the Sandero as part of its launch in the UK.
So what can we expect from the Lodgy when it finally arrives here? Judging by Dacia’s recent expansion into the rest of Europe, the Lodgy is likely to be priced right at the bottom of the MPV market, meaning it will be hitting dealerships at a time when money is tight. This is certainly an advantage. The vehicle’s main competitor is likely to be the SEAT Alhambra, an MPV which maintains a low retail price but not at the expense of quality. Indeed, the Alhambra has won a number of awards in the past few years despite its low price. Lacia’s vehicle will undoubtedly be cheaper, so the test will be whether it can offer an alternative to SEAT in terms of performance.
This launch looks set to be a critical moment for Dacia, not least because the company has seen dipping sales in Europe for the first time during its recent period of resurgence. Although there are now 1.8 million Dacias on the roads worldwide, a staggering figure given the position of the company as recently as a decade ago, unit sales last year fell 1.5 per cent globally. The biggest slide though was in its domestic market, where total sales dropped by 16 percent. This is a sign that a number of trends may be working against the brand in Romania, among them perhaps a move towards higher priced vehicles as incomes climb.
That could be the Lodgy’s strength though overseas. In a sluggish European economy where price has become increasingly important in the 7-seater market, a basement price alternative may find success.