Dacia at the Commercial Vehicle Show 2020 - what's coming?

  • Dacia doesn't offer a commercial vehicle in the UK
  • But it's got a presence at the CV Show 2020...
  • What could be coming from the budget brand? An electric van? A 4x4?

It seems obvious that Dacia, a brand focused on practicality and low cost, would fit into the light commercial vehicle market quite nicely – yet in the UK, it has a line-up of passenger cars and small SUVs exclusively, and parent company Renault carries the cargo. At least, for now.

While there's been no indication that anything is coming from Dacia, it's a new name on the list of exhibitors at the CV Show 2020... and we're intrigued.

Dacia vans – do they exist?

In Europe, there is a small Dacia van – the Dokker. It's based on the Lodgy, a left-hand-drive-only five- or seven-seater MPV, and comparable to a Ford Transit Connect, or the PSA small van quadruplets of Berlingo, Partner and Combo, plus the Toyota Proace City.

The Dacia Dokker van

Sharing a platform with other Renault and Nissan products, there's no reason why it couldn't be a sensible addition to the range here, though it would be a direct competitor to the soon-to-be-updated Kangoo.

We think, therefore, that it must be something that either Renault doesn't already offer, or that will be beneficial to Dacia's overall strategy in the UK. Something... different.

Option one: 2020 Dacia Duster Commercial 4x4

It's been done before – the previous generation of Duster was offered as a commercial model between 2015 and 2018; doing the same thing with the current model would be a no-brainer, really. Although the original wasn't a huge seller, the commercial 4x4 sector is growing, with more choice of upmarket models such as the Toyota Land Cruiser Commercial, or Land Rover Discovery Commercial, and specialist aftermarket conversions becoming part of the mainstream for the Vauxhall Combo Cargo 4x4.

Dacia Duster 2018 - Comfort spec, 4x4

Unlike those models, the Dacia Duster Commercial 4x4 comes from a far more affordable end of the market, with the potential to deliver 70-80% of the load capacity for less than 50% of the cost.

2015 Dacia Duster Commercial 4x4 load area

The most expensive 4x4 model previously on sale was well under £14,000 ex VAT, reflecting the low cost of the Duster range overall. On that basis, we'd expect a 2020 Duster Commercial 4x4 to cost between £15,000 and £18,000, with a two-wheel drive model around £2,000 cheaper. The 1.5-litre Blue dCi 115hp diesel engine is the logical choice again.

Dacia's variety and specifications have become more sophisticated, and it seems unlikely that a Commercial model would go to the extremely basic or luxury ends of the range.

Rather, the Comfort and Prestige options seem like the best starting point, and though a two-wheel drive Access model with the most spartan spec seems logical, it's only offered with a 100hp petrol engine.

2015 Dacia Duster Commercial 4x4

Load space will probably remain the same, at 1.0 cubic metre for the 4x4 and 1.15 cubic metres for the two-wheel drive model, as the passenger car's capacity didn't change significantly. On that basis, we'd expect the load capacity to remain at 550kg; far short of the Combo's 892kg but comparable to the SWB Land Cruiser Commercial.

If this is what Dacia is attending the show for, you can expect all the advances of the passenger-spec Duster to apply, so robust, appealing styling, an improvement in interior quality and safety assistance, and an easy-to-use 4x4 system.

Passenger models in Dacia's range are now available with an LPG dual-fuel system as well. This could be very appealing for some commercial users, and would open the range up for petrol and automatic options too.

Option two: A Dacia electric van

Everyone's working to bring their average CO2 down and meet European NOx requirements; adding an electric vehicle to the range is one way to push the numbers in the right direction (adding weight, reducing emissions) and avoid attracting fines – yes, there is a penalty for not meeting targets, rather than an outright ban on sale of more polluting vehicles.

Could the UK get an electric version of the Dacia Dokker Stepway?

For firms like Dacia, with more affordable, traditional technology and lighter cars overall in a small range, those targets are harder to meet than for firms with big, heavy hybrids. It's likely that a low-cost Renault, the K-ZE, will appear under the Romanian marque at some stage – but a version of the Kangoo ZE or Nissan eNV-200 would be very appropriate for 2020, particularly when Maxus (LDV) has the low-cost e Deliver 3 going on sale later this year.

The biggest argument against this – aside from Renault's own ambitions, established presence and competitive pricing – is that Dacia has recently introduced the option of dual-fuel LPG models to the UK range, adding just £400 to the cost of the Duster and usefully reducing CO2 (LPG is much cleaner in terms of NOx, too).

Option three: A Duster pickup

The Renault Duster Oroch, a small lifestyle pickup

This is probably the least likely outcome - but it's been on sale in many parts of the world since 2015! Fans of the Skoda Felicia Fun, Proton Jumbuck and original Volkswagen Caddy will no doubt perk up at the idea that it could come here.

Outside of the UK, small, light two- or three-seater single cab light pickups are very popular. Dacia's had two contenders for this in recent years – the single cab Lodgy pickup, and the Oroch, a double-cab version based on the previous generation Duster with a 650kg load capacity and optional 4x4; it's tipped to remain in production until 2023 despite the older origins.

The Oroch is a small lifestyle pickup based on the Duster, but badged as a Renault for South America and India

In Romania, a single-cab Duster pickup has been seen testing, as an aftermarket conversion under consideration for production, but with the Oroch already in existence it seems more likely that Dacia would choose to sell that if the demand existed. Given the non-appearance of the Renault Alaskan here, and the demise of the X-Class, it's very unlikely another Renault-derived pickup will be attempted so soon.

Renault Duster Oroch pickup in Columbia

We can dream though – if the UK's tax regime were as kind to small pickups as it is to large, thirsty lifestyle ones, they'd be a great alternative and arguably kinder to the environment at a time when large-engined 4x4 pickups have been discontinued.

Does a Dacia commercial vehicle make sense for the UK?

Regardless of what's coming to the CV Show in 2020, Dacia's appearance there is worthy of interest. At the very least, a refreshed Duster Commercial 4x4 provides a capable, affordable option in a growing market, and at most, there's scope for Dacia providing an affordable small electric van. That would leave Nissan and Renault to adopt newer, more expensive technology to remain at the cutting edge of a market they effectively kickstarted seven years ago.

Check back after the show to see what Dacia's been hiding from us...

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