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ANALYSIS - Alpine & Dacia future models [new information added]

By Glenn Brooks | 11 January 2017

Vision concept a preview of future Alpine A120

Vision concept a preview of future Alpine A120

Alpine and Dacia are the first marques for a new series concerning Groupe Renault. Future model plans for RSM's Samsung brand will make up the second feature, with a third and fourth concentrating on Renault passenger vehicles also to follow later in January.

Alpine

[This feature was originally published on 6 January. Here is some additional information added on 10 January: a source linked to Groupe Renault says the car will likely now have a motor show premiere at Geneva. Also, the model name may not be A-120 after all. Possibilities include A-210, A-410 or even Berlinette. Another source claims the car will be shown during the Rallye Monte Carlo (19-22 January), the opening round of the world championship.]

No changes have been made to the text of the Alpine feature, which remains as it was [but see below in italic for some revisions to the Dacia text]

FCA Italy is not the only Europe-based OEM trying to highlight the rallying heritage of a tiny division which it has owned for decades. Can the prestige and therefore transaction prices of Abarth models be lifted via a low cost, small scale return to motorsport? We shall have to see. Groupe Renault also wants some of that action.

Alpine, which had strong connections to Renault, has a glorious history in international rallying but that was many decades ago. Even the pronunciation of the name will not be familiar to most non-Francophones so there is a mountain to climb before the first step towards brand rebuilding can commence. The resurrection of Al-PEEN has been in the offing for some years and there have been missteps along the way, not the least of which was a dalliance with Caterham Cars, which soon fizzled out.

The once-planned multi-model range of vehicles has now been whittled down to a single vehicle, which will soon be revealed. That is set for later in the first quarter and contrary to what some claim, Alpine's first new model of the 21st Century will not be revealed at the Geneva motor show. Renault feels that the car's debut could be lost in the welter of other vehicle world premieres, so a special event is planned elsewhere, the details of which are not being made public, although the model name is known.

The Alpine A210, which can be thought of being in the same segment as the sadly rarely bought Alfa Romeo 4C, will be manufactured at Groupe Renault's Dieppe plant in Normandy. This was announced by Caterham Cars and the French OEM at a joint press conference in November 2012. Production would begin "within 3-4 years", it was stated at that time. It was then revealed by sources within Renault that Job 1 was planned for July 2015.

Also in November 2012, just-auto reported that the cars would be produced under both Caterham and Alpine brands with distinctive identities and styling. The Malaysian versions would be imported as CKD kits with many parts sourced locally.

The Alpine A110-50, had appeared at the Monaco Grand Prix in May 2012. This rear-wheel drive prototype was powered by a mid-mounted V6 engine. Nothing much happened for a while, but then another concept, the Alpine Celebration, was revealed at the Le Mans 24 hours race in June 2015.

In February 2014, there had been media reports claiming the project was behind schedule due to a decision being taken to restyle the car. This would supposedly have meant a new launch date of late 2016. Then came a now infamous Renault press release:

Following a mutual agreement between Renault and Caterham Group, Renault has increased its stake in Société des Automobiles Alpine Caterham to 100%, following acquisition of the interest held by Caterham Group. Renault will now continue to develop its own Alpine sports car to be launched in 2016, as initially planned. Caterham Group also plans to continue with its own sports car. 

This acquisition brings to an end to the partnership signed in November 2012 by Renault and Caterham Group to develop and manufacture sports cars through a joint venture, Société des Automobiles Alpine Caterham, owned 50/50 by the two partners. Other forms of cooperation could still be envisaged between Renault and Caterham Group in line with each company's strategic policy directions. 

Société des Automobiles Alpine Caterham has since had its name changed to Société des Automobiles Alpine. 

In January 2015, the head of Alpine Bernard Ollivier told a news wire that "In terms of scale, on average [annual production] volume would be about 3,000 cars, with a peak of 5,000". Production is now due to commence in late 2017.

Renault revealed a fresh concept car in February 2016 and issued the following media statement:

The show car Alpine Vision combines sensual design with outstanding agility, true to the great Alpine A110 Berlinette loved and admired by enthusiasts around the world. Alpine Vision is powered by a new 4 cylinder turbocharged engine, built by experts at Renault Sport, and its low weight will allow the car to achieve 0 to 100 km/h (62mph) in less than 4.5 seconds - the target for the future production model. 

Alpine will be managed by a small team of passionate experts within Groupe Renault, with one sole mission – to meet and exceed the expectations of the demanding sport premium customer. Michael van der Sande will lead as Alpine Managing Director, and Antony Villain will head Alpine design. Alpine will draw on the extensive resources of Groupe Renault, and Renault Sport. 

"All of us at Alpine are proud to have been entrusted with the task of bringing back Alpine to sports car lovers around the world", said Michael van der Sande, Alpine Managing Director. "Our job is to faithfully re-interpret famous Alpines of the past and project Alpine into the future with a beautifully designed, agile, high-performance sports car. Our Alpine Vision show car is immediately recognizable as an Alpine yet resolutely modern. We look forward to revealing the production model later this year."   

Over the next 12 months, the Alpine team will focus on building an outstanding car, very close to today's show car in terms of design, weight, handling, agility and attention to detail. Priorities will also include building out the team and the network, and finally, to pursue racing. The current Signatech-Alpine Racing Team has already won two European endurance championships, and won the LMP2 class in the World Endurance Championship last year in Shanghai; and this year, the team will enter two Alpine LMP2 cars in the World Endurance Championship, including Le Mans. 

Made in Dieppe, France, the new Alpine will go on sale in 2017 initially in Europe, followed by other markets worldwide.

In December 2016, Alpine announced that it would begin taking reservations for its 'Première Édition'. Production of the limited-edition version is restricted to 1,955 cars, a reference to the year when Alpine founder Jean Rédélé established the brand.

The Alpine Première Édition's price and technical specification will be revealed later in the first quarter of 2017. The tax-paid price in France will be between €55,000 and €60,000. Renault says the car's 0-100km/h time will be 4.5 seconds. Customers deliveries are scheduled to start from the end of this year. Given the ambitious strategy of trying to sell almost 2,000 units of an expensive sports car into a segment where other, established marques have recently failed, Renault will offer the Première Édition in many countries. These will be Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

The A210 is expected to use a bespoke rear-wheel drive platform but costs will be saved via the utilisation of a modified Renault engine. A seven-year production run is expected with build of between 1,500 and 3,500 cars a year seemingly possible; more perhaps if there are more derivatives to come. A convertible would be a logical addition ahead of or timed to coincide with a mid-cycle facelift for the coupe in 2021.

How Renault will make Alpine self-funding is not clear. Nor does there seem to be any obvious way of expanding the model range. Nonetheless, as Munich-based Mini proves, heritage is one thing and where a brand can be taken is quite another. Who knows - Alpine may yet become the maker of several high-priced cars which have little to do with its roots but which could contribute handsomely to Groupe Renault's profits. Or, it could prove to have been a mistake with production at the marque's historic Dieppe factory wound up well before 2020.

Dacia

[A change has been made since this feature was published on 6 January. Project HJD - the next Duster - will appear in late 2017 and be on sale from 2018. Originally, its potential debut had been speculated as being at Geneva show in March but a Groupe Renault source has ruled this out]

After a long and impressive period of year-on-year expanding worldwide sales, Dacia seemed to hit a pothole in 2016. Much of the reason was due to a puzzling lack of fresh models, with this then corrected in a sudden wave of facelifts which continue to swamp dealers and potential prospects' ability to understand why everything is being launched at once.

It has been a mixed experience in the brand's traditionally best performing markets. It was a good year in France, with almost 110,000 deliveries securing fifth position for the brand, close to 48,000 in Germany and the same for the Italian market, 44,000 for Spain, while the UK and Romania each contributed around 26,000 units each. ACEA data for all of Europe is yet to be released but as at the end of November, sales for the region were up by 10 percent to 383,807 cars and SUVs. The EU+EFTA total for calendar 2016 should come in at around 416,000 units.

There are five models in the Dacia range and the Logan remains the most inexpensive; at least its starting price makes it that way. One of the most infrequently misunderstood things about this brand is that it is all about low prices. Even though the Logan costs from EUR7,790 in France, prices rise quite a way from that level and it is easily possible to spend in excess of 20,000 euro on a Duster.

The second generation Logan range consists of four derivatives: L52 (sedan), R52 (MCV), U52 (pick-up) and F52 (van). Each is on the Renault-Nissan Alliance M-Zero platform. 

The sedan had its world premiere at the Paris motor show in September 2012, going on sale in Romania, its first market, in November 2012. 

The second generation Logan MCV (wagon) was launched at the Geneva motor show in March 2013. It was released in LHD markets two months later and in the UK from June 2013.

The Sandero is the five-door hatchback version of the Logan, while the Sandero Stepway is the crossover variant (see below).

The first Renault-badged version of this model entered production in Brazil in October 2013. The second generation Renault Logan has a different grille and tail-lights to the Dacia, while inside the vents are rectangular compared to the circular ones in the Dacia Logan.

In March 2015, Renault stated that production of the Renault Logan, Sandero and Sandero Stepway would begin in Argentina during mid-2016, with the vehicles themselves going on sale soon after.

Facelifted versions of the Dacia Logan and Logan MCV had their world premieres at the Paris motor show in September 2016. Including the Renault variants, global Logan production is at three locations: Pitesti (Romania), Curitiba (Brazil) and Santa Isabel (Argentina).

The next generation Logan range is due in late 2019. It is expected to be based on the Alliance's CMF-A architecture, as introduced by India's Renault Kwid. It is possible that CMF-B might instead be used but so as to keep costs low, the less sophisticated A seems more likely.

K67 is the model code for the Dokker, a small minivan. Production is at a plant in Tangier. Like the Logan, the Dokker uses M-Zero for its platform. The Tangier facility, which was opened in February 2012, had an initial capacity of 170,000upa, building cars on one line at the rate of 30/hour. This would eventually rise to 400,000 when a second line was installed, Renault stated when it launched production. 

The installation of a second line at Tangier was announced in October 2013. Production of the Dacia Sandero and Stepway commenced during 2014, expanding the factory's capacity to 340,000 vehicles per annum.

The first model to be made at the Tangier facility was the Dacia Lodgy (see below). The second model series for Tangier, the closely related Dokker minivan and van, had their world premieres at the Casablanca motor show in May 2012. They went on sale in Morocco the following month, and other markets from later in the northern hemisphere summer of that year.

A facelifted Dokker was announced in November 2016. The replacement series is expected to enter production at Tangier in 2020. That includes a second generation of the Dokker Stepway. This higher ride height version of the Dokker had its world premiere at the Paris motor show in October 2014. A facelift was announced in November 2016.

J92, the Dacia (and in certain countries Renault) Lodgy is a five- and/or seven-seater rival for MPVs similar in size to the Kia Carens and Chevrolet Orlando. It was first seen at the Geneva motor show in March 2012, going on sale across Europe two months later. 

The Lodgy is mainly built at the Tangier plant. The Moroccan factory was opened by the country's King in February 2012, and as noted above, produces other Dacia and Renault models.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance's RNAIPL factory at Oragadam (Chennai) in Tamil Nadu began building the Lodgy in December 2014. The Toyota Innova is the vehicle's main rival in the Indian market. 

A facelifted Lodgy was announced in November 2016. This should be the only styling change before the arrival of a second generation model in the second quarter of 2020. Production should stay at both the Indian and Moroccan plants, as the main Dacia manufacturing complex at Pitesti in Romania already builds multiple other models and is at capacity.

There will a next generation of the Lodgy Stepway too. This crossover version of the car had its world premiere at the Paris motor show in October 2014. A facelifted version was announced in November 2016. Its replacement should appear at the same time as the Lodgy 2 at the 2020 Geneva motor show.

The Sandero, which as mentioned earlier, should be thought of as a five-door hatchback version of the Logan sedan. This is an especially successful model, and also in countries where it is sold as a Renault.

The second generation of this B-segment five-door hatchback and closely related crossover went on sale as Dacia models in Europe from late 2012. Both cars had their global debuts at the Paris motor show in September 2012. Four years later, facelifted versions appeared at the same venue.

Originally, the current Sandero and Sandero Stepway (a crossover derivative) were manufactured only in Romania, but production at the Ayrton Senna plant in Curitiba (Brazil) was added during the first quarter of 2014.

A second line at the Tangier plant began building the Dacia Sandero and Stepway during 2014, expanding this facility's capacity to 340,000 vehicles per annum. Some 90% of the Sandero and Sandero Stepway production at the Moroccan factory is for export to European markets.

Localised versions of the Sandero and Sandero Stepway were revealed by Renault Russia at the Moscow motor show in August 2014. They went on sale (as Renaults) the following month. Each is made by AvtoVAZ at its Togliatti manufacturing complex.

The R.S. 2.0, a Renaultsport version of the Sandero, had its world premiere at the Buenos Aires motor show in June 2015. It went on sale in Argentina in early 2016, powered by a 145hp engine. There is no Dacia equivalent of this car for Europe.

Renault's Santa Isobel plant in Argentina also makes the Renault Sandero and has done since mid-2016. The cars built there are for the local region only.

The next generation Sandero and Stepway are due to enter production during the fourth quarter of 2019. They should be based on the Alliance's CMF-A architecture, but like the next Logan, CMF-B might instead be chosen as their basis. Expect a seven-year lifecycle, which would mean facelifts in the second or third quarters of 2023.

The future Sandero and Stepway should again be built at the existing five locations: Pitesti (Romania), Tangier (Morocco), Curitiba (Brazil) Togliatti (Russia) and Santa Isabel (Argentina).

The final model in the Dacia range is the popular Duster. This vehicle revived the name of a rugged 4x4 which the Romanian firm made in the years when Romania was a totalitarian state. Back then, Dacia did business with Renault, basing many of its vehicles on cars which had gone out of production in France.

Today's Duster isn't the most advanced SUV on the market but it does find much favour with people who want a well priced model which offers a lot of size and standard equipment for the money. It uses the same B-Zero platform as the Logan, Sandero and other models. The Dacia went on sale in Europe, Turkey and the Maghreb region (Algeria, Morocco) in April 2010, followed two months later (as a Renault) by Ukraine, the Middle East and selected African markets. Production in Brazil, meanwhile, started in September 2011.

Sofasa, Renault Group's Colombian assembler, began building the Renault Duster in February 2012. Vehicles for Mexico are sourced from the Medellin plant. CKD assembly at the Avtoframos plant in Moscow, meanwhile, began in December 2011 and production in Brazil began in October 2011. Renault Duster build was then added at the Alliance plant in Chennai during the second half of 2012.

The Duster was the first model for the reintroduction of the Dacia brand to the UK and the Irish Republic. This was in January 2013. Those vehicles were sourced from India but in September 2014 this switched to Romania so as to help clear a backlog of Renault Duster orders in the Indian market. India's Nissan Terrano is the same vehicle as the Dacia/Renault Duster sold in other countries.

A facelifted Dacia Duster had its global debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September 2013. As the UK and Ireland's Duster was not at that time sourced from the Dacia plant in Romania, these markets' cars did not have the facelift until September 2014. 

Renault used the annual Jakarta motor show to announce in September 2013 that its local partner Indomobil would assemble the Duster from 2015.

The Indian market Duster had a facelift in March 2016 and this came to the UK three months later.

Developed with the H79 project code, the Duster is manufactured or assembled in a variety of plants. Most of these make the Renault-badged model. The factories in question are as follows: Pitesti (Romania) Curitiba (Brazil), Envigado/Medellin (Colombia), RNAIPL: Oragadam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu (India), Avtoframos: Moscow (Russia) and Jakarta (Indonesia). These should also produce the successor model.

HJD, the next Duster, will be revealed to the public towards the end of 2017, according to a source within Groupe Renault. Production in Europe should commence within months, with build at other plants to follow.

In September 2016, Renault announced that as part of a new JV with the Iranian state, the Duster and Symbol would be built in that country from 2018. It may be that the Duster for Iran will be the by-then obsolete model.

There have been rumours claiming that the Renault Kwid might be exported to Europe and sold as a Dacia. India, rather than Brazil, has been suggested as the place of build. Groupe Renault has refused comment on these suggestions but this little crossover would need a lot of re-engineering to make it compliant with the European Commission's collision protection norms. The A segment is the one obvious area for a potential expansion of the Dacia brand.

Future model plan reports for other manufacturers can be viewed in the OEM product strategy summaries section of just-auto.com.

Future product program intelligence

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