I have always been intrigued by the relationship Romanians have had with their car brand, Dacia. It is the only brand that still exists and that did not disappear after the Revolution that put an end to communism. But the way we’ve seen the brand, the way we’ve related to it or chosen to ignore it, makes for a very interesting story.

Dacias were not the best of cars during the communist period.  But they were one of the few types of cars you could actually get. Long lists and long waits came before any car purchase. And when I say long wait, I mean years. But then again, that gave you time to raise the money for it. The design was outdated, there weren’t that many options to choose from, and some relatives told me some now funny stories about how they prayed for their car to arrive with most of the parts on it.

After the Revolution, we finally had choices. And we went for them. Foreign cars, used at first, brought from nearby countries, Germany being the leading supplier. I grew up with high-school friends that made a business out of driving to Germany in one car and returning in three. They would work on them for a while, then resell them for some extra cash.

The evolution of Dacia car models over time
Old school Dacia, Sandero and Duster

Everyone thought of new Dacias (which came with a slightly updated design and a few more features) as cheap, but ultimately bad cars and they bought them only because they found nothing better. Then came Renault, which bought Dacia in 1999. Soon came the Logan brand and things started to change in how Romanians perceived the cars.

Yet there still were plenty saying they’d buy anything else. With rather strong competition on the market, the number of choices was still extremely large and with a negligible price difference. But of course, the Renault brand standing behind Dacia meant something.

In recent years, the Logan and the Sandero brands have changed perception even more. They are top selling cars and Dacia is one of the most profitable companies in the Renault group. We had to see that Brazil, Germany and other European countries love our cars for us to start loving and consider them as a strong alternative. I have to admit that I am now making plans around a new 4×4 announced by Dacia and Renault, Duster, and I would love to have one!

Was there another way to get us to support Dacia sooner? Was there something more than the price that they could have shown us? Definitely! We grew up seeing Dacia as crappy. Maybe all the reactions from other countries should have been brought to our attention sooner, more often, until we were no longer trapped in what we thought we knew and we could have given Dacia a chance.

No matter how we got here, I am happy to hear Romanians are proud of their car brand. They smile when they hear how well Sandero is doing on the international market and they are looking forward to see what’s next. I for one heard of a very cheap car running on electricity. Rumor has it it will cost about 5000 Euros.

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