The Duster Returns (No, Not What You Might Think)
While many people in the U.S. probably don’t know much more about Romania than the fact that Transylvania is located there and that a guy resembling either Bela Lugosi or Robert Pattinson once lived there, that there is a car company based there is something that is completely inconceivable. Vampires, yes. Car companies, no.
Yet there is a car company in Romania, Dacia, which is, admittedly, almost entirely owned by Renault (99.4%). Still, Dacia has, according to 2008 figures, 27.4% of the Romanian passenger and light-commercial vehicle market, which makes it the market leader. In addition to which, of its total sales in ’08 (it sold 257,854 vehicles, of which it built 242,384), 67% of its sales are outside of Romania. Dacias are rolling around on roads in 48 countries, and the Logan lineup is sold in 11 countries as a Renault.
Now people will be rolling off road in a vehicle that is produced in the Dacia plant in Pitesti, Romania, the Duster. Not to be confused with the Plymouth version of the Valiant that was popular in the U.S. in the mid-‘70s, the Dacia Duster is a compact sport ute. As the company describes it, “Dacia Duster, in its 4x4 version, is aimed at motorists seeking an everyday car with genuine off-road ability. The 4x2 version has been designed for customers who want good ground clearance and a reassuring elevated driving position, as well as loose-surface ability.”
The Duster is being sold in Europe, Turkey, Africa, and the Middle East so far. Starting in June it will be badged a Renault and sold in the Ukraine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and elsewhere. The Pitesi plant, where the Logan lineup is built, as well, has an annual capacity of 350,000 units. Plans for 2011 have the Duster being assembled in Curitiba, Brazil, the Avtoframos plant in Moscow, Russia, and the Sofasa plant in Envigado, Colombia.