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RENAULT’S withdrawal as a factory distributor in Australia opens the door for the new – and independent – distributor, Ateco Automotive, to introduce volume models to take on budget-priced cars from Japan and China.

The high volume, low-cost game is one that Ateco knows intimately and has historically prospered through debuting Kia, Great Wall Motors and LDV in Australia.

Now, with responsibility for Renault’s distribution from April 1, it gives Ateco a business opportunity to not only grow the brand in Australia, but introduce Renault’s stablemate, Dacia.

The budget car brand owned by Renault is from Romania and manufactures two models in right-hand drive, particularly for the UK market.

GoAutoNews Premium research shows the Dacia Duster SUV sells for £11,245-£20,620 in the UK ($A20,122-$A36,898) to compete with the Nissan Qashqai (£23,550-£30,070 or $A42,142-$A53,809).

The Dacia Sandero hatch is £7995-£10,130 ($A14,306-$A18,127) which compares with the Suzuki Swift at £14,499 ($A25,979), Kia Picanto at £10,995 ($A19,700) and the MG3 at £12,195-13,495 ($A21,823-$A24,149).

Dacia Duster

The Sandero, at $A14,306, would become Australia’s cheapest car on a direct conversion rate and is likely to fall even further given Australia’s lower taxes and GST.

It would undercut the cheapest car, the Mitsubishi Mirage ES at $A14,990 (plus costs), Kia Picanto 1.2 S at $A15,190 (plus costs) and the MG3 at $A16,690 driveaway.

GoAutoNews Premium put the scenario to the head of Ateco Group – and its designated Renault distribution business, RVDA – Neville Crichton.

Mr Crichton told us that there would be no official comment until RVDA takes over on April 1.

However, he said there are “different scenarios” to navigate because this is the first time that Ateco has taken over an existing OEM’s distribution.

“History shows we usually initiate the presence of automotive brands in Australia,” he said.

“Our success over the years in building consistent sales volumes of these brands inevitably catches the eye of OEMs, who then decide they want a slice of the action after all.

Dacia Sandero

“In all cases, when the OEMs have re-engaged with their brand locally they lose volume, market share and the confidence of the dealers – all of which then takes time to build back up.

“In this instance it’s the other way round – we are taking over an existing OEM.”

Mr Crichton would not indicate if Dacia was part of Ateco Group’s plans, referring to a statement to be made on April 1.

Dacia is a price-sensitive brand that is surprisingly popular in the UK where in January, it outsold Mazda, Lexus and Mitsubishi and doubled Suzuki’s sales. It is close in market share to Honda and Jaguar.

Dacia sold 834 units in January, down on the same month in 2020 where it found 1222 new buyers. The 31.75 per cent sales fall was attributed to the effects of the pandemic which also struck Renault (down 45.46 per cent to 1581 January sales) and the total vehicle market (down 39.54 per cent).

Renault also owns sportscar-maker Alpine and the Russian budget brand, Lada. The Lada models are based on similar Renault platforms to Dacia but to date, are only made in left-hand drive.

By Neil Dowling

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