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Dacia will focus on boosting brand recognition this year as the sales growth that Renault's low-cost unit had during the European downturn slows.
Dacia's rate of growth this year should be on par with that of last year, Francois Mariotte, Dacia’s commercial director, told Automotive News Europe.
Dacia's sales strategy will largely rely on boosting its marketing efforts to "develop the familiarity of the brand," Mariotte said.
"We still need to invest in the awareness of Dacia," Mariotte said. "We need to make people more aware of our products instead of being known just by our brand name."
Dacia lost market share in Europe last year as its sales stalled because of its aging lineup and lack of offerings in the booming SUV/crossover segments, apart from the Duster compact model.
Dacia benefited during Europe's austerity when customers were reluctant to spend money, said Ian Fletcher, an analyst for IHS Automotive. "With growing consumer confidence and greater economic stability I think buyers are happier to stretch themselves," he said. "I think a lack of new product hasn’t helped matters."
Dacia's sales slowdown is also largely due to declining sales of the Duster last year as its product life cycle ends and before the model is replaced in 2017, said Jamel Taganza, an analyst for Inovev
Dacia's EU ad EFTA sales rose 5.1 percent last year to 382,948 units in a total market up 9.1 percent, according to data from industry association ACEA. Its market share fell by 1 percentage point to 2.7 percent, equal to that of rival affordable brand Kia.
Sales of the Duster SUV declined by 1.8 percent to 125,227, according to market researchers JATO Dynamics.
Dacia has now launched its first ever automated manual transmission, called the Easy-R.
The gearbox underwent 130,000 hours of bench testing before being evaluated on the road, for a total of 120,000 km. It uses electro-mechanical instead of hydraulic technology, for swifter response and enhanced flexibility.
The Easy-R works just like a regular automatic transmission and has four modes, D (Drive), N (Neutral), R (Reverse) and M (Manual).