Maxime Fontanier went to ask Denis Le Vot your questions about electrification, the sustainability of a low-cost offer, where Dacias are manufactured and the future of the Manifesto concept. Incorporating the brand into a more global Renault group policy, the managing director responded bluntly. Their office: The restyled Dacia Spring.
More than 30 years of career in the Renault group
Managing Director of the Dacia brand since January 1, 2021, Denis Le Vot joined Renault’s sales department in 1990, after studying at the Ecole des Mines de Paris. During his career, he has represented Losange in different parts of the world, from Russia to Turkey, from G9 Europe to Eurasia.
Sailing in the marks of the Alliance, he also knows. In 2018, he was Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Management Committee of Nissan North America. In addition to his current position at Dacia, he is a member of the board of directors of the Renault group.
This rich career in the big house in diversified management positions gives a very particular legitimacy to the boss of the brand of Romanian origin to answer questions from the readers of Automobile Propre and the public who frequent our Youtube channel.
The electrification of the Dacia range
A majority of the 78 questions asked by our followers concerned the electrification of the Dacia range. Thereby : ” When will there be an electric family compact? » ; « Will there be a replacement for the electrified Logan with a tailgate? » ; « Can you tell us more about the future electric vehicles planned in the range? » ; « Do you plan to develop the Spring with more autonomy? ».
Denis Le Vot first highlighted the group’s strategy whereby ” each brand is invested with a role “. Renault, for example, is becoming the leader in electrics in Europe ».
And Dacia? ” Its credo is to offer essential cars, with a choice of content, and therefore to have very affordable models. “. On the new market, cars always cost more. ” More and more customers come to buy Dacias for this reason “, assured the DG.
The Spring example
« La Spring is exactly a Dacia. It’s a car that measures 3.70 m, weighs 970 kg, does not go above 125 km / h, and it is an electric car that has just 300 km of autonomy. You could say that’s not good. But it is a car worth less than 20,000 euros. nobody does that “explained Denis Le Vot.
« We are super proud to offer electric mobility to as many people as possible. And that is exactly Dacia. Dacia makes choices and enters the market when it has something to offer that is different and unique in its essentiality “, he deciphered.
This is how Dacia intends to develop its traction battery models, at its own pace, by recovering the group’s technologies to electrify its cars. ” Next year we will see a hybrid on the Jogger “, promised Maxime Fontanier the CEO of the brand with the new DC logo.
An electric compact based on Zoé?
« Are we going to hurry to be the first to offer electric cars with 600 km of autonomy and a full recharge in 17 minutes on the highway? The answer is no ! said Denis Le Vot, referring to 2036 for a fully connected range.
Our journalist well imagined Dacia recovering “ the already well amortized base of the Renault Zoe to create an essential vehicle, at a lower manufacturing cost, that would meet the demand for an electric compact “. A scenario that does not seem to have been retained due to a technological choice: ” Dacia is now developing its range on the CMF-B platform which served as the basis for the Sandero 3 launched 18 months ago ».
And this on a global level. The Logan, Jogger, Duster and future Bigster are gradually adopting it. ” The generation after us is indeed asking the question of electrification “, However, reported the interlocutor of Maxime Fontanier.
Dacia’s move upmarket
Readers of Automobile Propre are concerned about the move upmarket observed at Dacia, while they assume very well their choice to acquire a low-cost car. They fear a gentrification of the brand, as in other groups. So, for example, Skoda and Seat at Volkswagen. ” Dacia remains Dacia “, wanted to reassure Denis Le Vot.
« What is the cheapest car in each range? it’s a Dacia. What is the cheapest electric on the market? it’s a Dacia “, he recalled.
« We have both customers who are looking for the cheapest car – the low-cost part of Dacia, but which is being outnumbered by customers who say ‘That’s enough, the cars are way too expensive, now we are going to make choices, we are going to buy something simple, which works well. And so they choose Dacias “, he opposed.
The Sandero and the Jogger as an example
The Sandero, whose declination Stepway 4,000 euros more expensive was a minority a few years ago, now represents 75% of sales. Same observation with the Jogger, of which 85% of copies are purchased “ in the highest mix with all equipment ».
How can this reversal be explained? ” In competition, a 7-seater vehicle starts at around 25,000 euros. Our first prize is 16,000 euros. Most customers say to themselves, ‘But at this price, I take the 7 places, the Wi-Fi, the telephone replication, the air conditioning, I take everything “, compared Denis Le Vot.
« We’re not really going up in price. The access price is still extremely competitive compared to the competition, but we are in the process of increasing the mix “, he justified.
In the questions you sent to us, the question of the manufacture of the brand’s models came up several times. Today, ” 90% of Dacias, such as Sanderos, Joggers, Dusters, etc. are manufactured in the same basin as Renaults, because these are cars that are derived from Renault platforms, with the same suppliers, the same component manufacturing plants ».
This is why they are assembled largely in Romania and Morocco today. For the Spring, it’s different, because it already existed. The Renault group hesitated, then decided to import it into France to ” give access to electric mobility to as many people as possible, by bringing it from China where it is manufactured ».
A scenario ” very Dacia and which is good for the development of the electric market “, underlined the CEO of the brand.
…and the carbon footprint
What about the carbon footprint of la Spring imported from China? ” The full chain carbonation is so complex to calculate. I still think that a small car of 970 kg with a small battery like ours, in overall carbonation, although it takes the boat, is not necessarily the worst car on the market “, estimated Denis Le Vot.
Would it be possible to repatriate the activity to Europe or to France? ” We ask ourselves the question every day, for the future. But you just have to understand that move a factory, already it is difficult to do, and that doesn’t solve the problem. The factory is 6% of the value of the car. There are hundreds of suppliers around who produce the parts “, he pleaded.
Pour illustration : « It would be a bit like buying a fridge in spare parts and having the parts delivered from all over the world to assemble it at home. From the point of view of transport and CO2, it is better to buy a fridge imported from Asia, because it is difficult to get all the suppliers to move ».
Dependence on Asia by batteries
Advocating for our readers, Maxime Fontanier insisted on evoking dependence on Asia due to manufacture of battery cells. His interlocutor invited to “ look at the question as a whole “, and to discuss it with” the entire Renault group and the eponymous brand in particular.
The Losange wishing to become an electric champion, even outside of France, many questions are discussed internally: ” Where do I make the batteries? Battery technology? Engine technology? Bringing the entire electric car ecosystem back to France? Which has a very clear role in the positioning that the Renault brand is taking ».
And for Dacia?
« Dacia is a sort of insurance, or Renault’s spare wheel. And it is important for the balance of a group. If electrification happens very quickly in the market, then so much the better, Renault will be there. But if it happens a little slower, because of the price of cars, because of the economic crisis, then Dacia is there with the supporting role. The 2 answer each other. It’s designed, it’s built as a balance of brands “, developed the DG.
« When will Dacia be electrified? What types of cells? What will be the choice of technologies? All these questions you ask yourself will have answers from the Renault group’s electrical developments. “, he summarized. ” When the time comes, we will use technologies from the Renault group. Just as Dacia, Dacia makes choices “, he rephrased.
Many of you enjoyed the Manifesto concept, regretting or fearing that he would find a commercial suite at Dacia. Maxime Fontanier asked Denis Le Vot about the future of this very attractive minimalist device: “ A competitor of Citroën Amiwould that make sense at Dacia? “. Amused, his interlocutor immediately dropped: “ I promise you, we didn’t ask ourselves this question. ».
« Basically, as Dacia is at a crossroads, we come from the low-cost car where design was not that important, and we now realize that we have a lot of potential with the CMF-B platform, that we will be able to sell crossovers, C-segment vehicles in Germany in 2 years, we said to ourselves that we cannot present ourselves on the market as we always have do “, he corrected.
« That’s why we redesigned, repainted the house, redid the logo, redid everything. It’s to explain what Dacia is and why we’re looking for essentiality, to show that essentiality can be cool at the same time. We said to ourselves that to explain it, we had to do it, and without limit, without standard, without rule “, he illustrated. ” The competition is open: what will become of the Manifesto? “, he concluded.
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