The new Dacia Logan could become the best-selling model in central Europe if its fourth-quarter sales momentum continues.
Skoda is the traditional central European market leader, but its Fabia lost nearly 4,000 sales during the fourth quarter last year to fewer than 25,000 units. The Fabia was still the top-selling car in the nine-country region. The Logan, made by Renault’s Romanian subsidiary Dacia, started in September but still sold 17,000 units in the fourth quarter and 21,600 for the year.
The Logan could surpass the Fabia in eastern Europe, says analyst Peter Schmidt of Automotive Industry Data in Warwick, England.
“I would not be surprised if in 18 months the region was dominated by Logan sales,” he said. “Logan is a product that is aimed specifically at people who would love to have a new car but have no money.”
That gives the Logan appeal in current central European markets, but Skoda and its more refined cars will eventually regain volume as residents’ incomes rise. The cheaper Dacia can win more sales farther east in Belarus, the Ukraine and Georgia, Schmidt said.
Analyst Neil Hall of JATO Dynamics in London said the Logan’s fourth quarter surge was almost entirely within Romania, with only 1,400 units sold elsewhere in central Europe. But the Romanian market was up sharply in the quarter and even Skoda gained volume there, which Hall said might reflect Romanians waiting for the Logan.
Overall, Skoda’s regional market share slipped from 16.9 percent to 15.5 percent. Dacia almost doubled its 2004 sales from 2003.