Renault to build 350,000 Dacia Duster SUVs this year in Morocco

Article by Christian Andrei, on February 6, 2011

An executive for Renault S.A. recently said the carmaker will eventually be able to produce 350,000 low-cost vehicles annually at the plant it is building in Tangiers, Morocco.

For 2012, Renault plans to add two more vehicles to the low-cost, or entry level, Dacia range, currently made up of the small Sandero, the Logan sedan and estate cars, and the highly-successful new Duster SUV.

Renault is relying on Dacia to help it conquer fast-growing emerging markets Russia and Brazil, as Renault seeks to cut dependence on stagnating European demand and boost international growth.

Completing the Dacia range are a new family minivan and a light commercial vehicle slightly larger than a Renault Kangoo van. Both are based on the Logan platform and built at the Tangiers site.

Gerard Detourbet, vice president for Renault's entry-level program, told Reuters that the maximum capacity for Renault's two lines will be 350,000-360,000, like Pitesti, referring to Dacia’s home base.

Renault recently set out new production plans, steering three-fifths of a total of EUR5.7 billion ($7.89 billion) to be invested in industrial sites by 2013 to foreign markets as it hopes to cut its dependency on Europe.

People typically see all-terrain vehicles as bulking and hulking machines. But this preconception is being trampled by the new Dacia Duster, a compact SUV that is only 4.31 meters long and 1.82 meters wide. As an SUV, the Dacia Duster is as capable as any all-terrain vehicle, but with the addition of striking and appealing lines.

In fact, Dacia designed the Duster to take on any road or track, by endowing it with capabilities that suit the needs of different customers around the world. For instance, the Dacia will be a 4x2, a configuration deemed appealing to customers seeking good ground clearance and a high driving position sans a four-wheel drive system.

It will also be available as a 4x4, making it suitable for off-road driving. This capability has been boosted by the Dacia Duster's strengthened undercarriage and higher ground clearance of more than 200 mm.

Moreover, the Dacia Duster boasts superb clearance angles -- approach angle at 30 degrees, and departure angle at more than 35 degrees. Of course, the new Dacia Duster is not just for drivers who love to go all-terrain. With its compact dimensions and low unladen weight -- 1,180kg in the 4x2 version and 1,280kg in the 4x4 variant, the new Dacia Duster sure is easy to drive and handle. Its 4x4 version features Nissan-sourced intuitive control placed at the foot of the center console, allowing drivers to suit the SUV’s transmission configuration to their immediate needs.

This intuitive control allows drivers to choose from three available modes: Auto, Lock and 4x2. Auto mode allows for automatic calculation of the front/rear torque split, as a function of available grip. Auto mode delivers optimal traction, regardless of available grip, thereby providing the Duster with true 4x4 capability.

When the Duster is driving under typical conditions, torque is sent only to the front wheels. Once the system detects that the traction is lost or that the grip is at a premium, it will transmit some of the torque to the rear axle.

However, when conditions demand it, torque could be split equally on the front and the rear, courtesy of an electromagnetic torque converter from Nissan. Lock mode, meanwhile, locks the Dacia Duster into 4x4 mode, which means that 50 percent of torque is also transmitted through the rear axle.

Lock mode is suitable in low grip conditions such as snow, mud, dirt, sand at low speeds. On the other hand, 4x2 mode locks the transmission into a two-wheel drive, which is appropriate when the road condition is good. Interestingly, this mode could help the Dacia Duster consume less fuel.

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