The Logan, Renault’s new low-cost car, needs some potentially expensive improvements before its sales start in western Europe this summer.
Built by Renault’s Romanian subsidiary Dacia, the Logan’s export version for western Europe will get a new suspension plus new brakes and tires, and reinforced doors.
The Logan showed serious weaknesses in Renault’s internal crash tests. The problems need to be fixed by mid-March. That’s when the car gets its coverage classification from the German Insurance Association.
Renault officials are positive that they can improve the Logan so it will pass the “Danner test”(rear end and front end impact at 15kph).
Until then, the Logan will be classified in Germany as insurance category 28. This means that comprehensive coverage for the car would cost as much as for a Porsche 911.
A Renault spokesman confirmed that export versions of the Logan are being made more crash-resilient.
He said the changes to the tires and suspension merely involve adapting the car to western European road conditions, which are less demanding.
The improvements will be completed before sales start June 16 in Germany, France and Spain, he said.
Because Logan prices will be kept low, dealers likely will not make great profits from selling the car.
During a visit to the Dacia plant in Pitesti, Romania, Renault’s German dealer committee was told that a 5 percent margin on the Logan will be standard all over Europe.
Many Renault dealers in western Europe have started to import the Logan directly from Hungary or the Czech Republic. They sell the cars for prices starting at E6,650.
But these gray market imports do not comply with western safety standards – as competitor Opel, which bought a few Logans for testing, discovered.
Renault’s German importer ex-pects to sell 3,000 Logans in 2005. The price for the basic model with a 75hp, 1.4-liter gasoline engine will be E7,250. The top-of-the-line Laureate with 90hp will cost E8,700.
Some competitors are reacting to the Logan’s introduction in western Europe by offering less expensive versions of their models.