Dacia Spring EV could be built in Europe

By | February 26, 2024

The Spring has undergone significant improvements in terms of interior quality and connectivity

Dacia could consider bringing production of the Spring to Europe, as the cost benefit of building and importing in China is less obvious.

The Spring – the third best-selling electric car in Europe, after the Tesla Model 3 and Y – has been heavily updated for 2024 and will finally be launched in Britain later this year in right-hand drive form. The car will initially be built in Hubei, China, by Dongfeng Renault, but the company is evaluating the possibility of building European cars locally.

The company’s sales and marketing boss, Xavier Martinet, told Autocar that building the European market Spring in China “made sense at the time of its launch in 2021 because that is where “the ecosystem was” and thus “the investment risk reduced”. “.

He said the ability to build cheaply in China has been crucial to Spring’s positioning as the cheapest full-size electric car in Europe, but wondered “how long will this advantage last?”

“The assembly in China has made the car a success so far, and we will see how long this remains the reality,” he said. “The market is changing a lot; there’s also regulation coming in. Plus, we have a bonus in terms of incentives and things like that, so it changes the equation a little bit, and we have to adapt to that.”

Dacia Spring at the Geneva Motor Show – rear view

Dacia Spring at the Geneva Motor Show – rear view

Martinet also cited the evolution of Europe’s battery manufacturing industry as a potential enabler of local Spring production, highlighting that as parent company Renault increases the number of electric vehicles it builds in Europe, production efficiencies could emerge from which Dacia could benefit.

“There is a complementarity of offers within the group, which allows us to make some decisions that do make sense,” he said.

The Spring isn’t based on the same CMF architecture that will underpin all of Renault’s European EVs, so it’s unlikely to fit into an existing production line – and Martinet stopped short of naming possible locations.

Dacia has its own European factory in Pitesti, Romania, but has not yet given any indication of plans to build electric cars there.

Importantly, Dacia remains committed to the Spring’s price settlement and will avoid a significant increase in production costs so as not to jeopardize the list price.

Martinet said: “We do not want to deviate from this positioning. That is what makes Dacia successful today: being the best value proposition in every segment we compete in.”

Dacia Spring facelift: everything you need to know

Dacia Spring at the Geneva Motor Show Dacia Spring at the Geneva Motor Show

Dacia Spring at the Geneva Motor Show

The Spring will finally hit UK dealers in the coming months to become the country’s cheapest electric car, following a substantial overhaul inside and out aimed at maintaining strong European sales volumes.

The Spring was originally launched in Europe in 2021 as a rebadged version of the Chinese market Renault City K-ZE. Its low launch price of just €16,800 (£14,385 at today’s exchange rate) saw it quickly climb the electric vehicle sales charts, and three years later 140,000 Springs have been purchased on the continent.

However, the original Spring was not imported into Britain – partly because it “lacked a bit of modernity”, in the words of Dacia design chief David Durand.

Now, though, it’s been heavily updated to put that right, with major improvements to interior quality and connectivity, and it’ll be hitting the market soon, priced from just over £17,000.

Inside, the outgoing car’s curved dashboard and piano black finish have been replaced by a more modern, robust design in line with the new Duster.

Also gone is the old 7.0-inch infotainment display. Top-end Extreme cars will instead get the Duster’s 10.1-inch touchscreen, which can be updated wirelessly without the need to visit a dealer.

Lower models rely on a smartphone app, which still provides access to popular services such as Waze and Spotify on the go.

Advanced driver assistance systems such as lane keeping assistance, advanced emergency braking and driver attention monitoring have also been added to the Spring. This is to ensure compliance with the new European GSR2 safety regulations, but a physical ‘My Safety’ button provides quick access to the ADAS settings, should drivers wish to disable them.

Dacia’s new ‘Youclip’ accessory holders appear on the center console, dashboard and glovebox. These provide mounting points for features such as a phone holder, cup holder and even a glovebox – useful as the Spring comes with a Fiat 500-style open shelf as standard.

The exterior styling of the Spring is also changing. The front fascia gets a new look that brings it in line with the Duster and the upcoming Bigster, with LED daytime running lights and indicators on the grille. The rear gets thinner, Y-shaped lights, which are connected by a matte black plastic panel.

The cladding around the wheel arches and the lower portion of the front and rear bumpers has been left unpainted to better absorb any dents and scratches around town.

Mechanically, however, the new spring is largely the same as before. A single electric motor sends 44 or 64 hp to the front wheels, while the more powerful variant sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in a leisurely 13.7 seconds.

The small 26.8 kWh battery delivers a range of more than 220 kilometers and is a key reason why the Spring weighs just 984 kg – just 6 kg more than the previous car. This means that the Spring is still the only fully-fledged electric car sold in Europe that weighs less than a tonne.

The 44 HP car can charge with up to 11 kW (AC), while 64 HP cars can charge at 30 kW DC as standard. On Extreme cars – Dacia is expected to account for 65% of UK sales – the charger can also supply power from the car’s battery to external sources, at 220V.

Spring UK deliveries start in October, with the sub-£18,000 price tag undercutting the £26,000 BYD Dolphin and the upcoming Citroen ë-C3, which will cost around £23,000.

Q&A with Christophe Combre, product leader of Dacia Spring

Will it always be feasible to build Spring in China?

“We are in the near future [going to build it in China]. We have no doubts about that. In Spring’s history, it was based on an existing vehicle, which was already made in China. So for us it made a lot of sense to go from there, into this ecosystem, because the suppliers are already there.”

Do you want to expand Spring’s target group?

“Our customer objectives are fully in line with the existing Spring. It is mainly people in Europe, in their fifties, who are looking for a second car because they need something practical for commuting and the daily business they have to do. Usually it is a second car or sometimes even a third car.

“We are actively trying to innovate the needs of these customers and also try to appeal to younger customers, who are no longer necessarily looking for a traditional means of mobility.”

Does the success of the Spring give you confidence in Dacia’s electric future?

“We are still studying that for the time being. This is the only electric car we have, and we are working on electrifying the range, with HEVs [hybrids], for example on other models. We keep thinking, but today this is ours [only electric model].”

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