• Dacia Sandero test: Who said 'low cost'?

With just one month to go until the end of 2023, the Dacia Sandero is almost 100% assured of the first position in sales by model. It has shipped 25,662 units, 5,400 more than the Seat Arona, a gap that seems insurmountable.

In other words, neither electric nor plug-in hybrid... Not expensive. Although the product or price of this car from the Romanian brand of the Renault Group is no longer 'low cost' as it used to be, it is still an accessible car. The cheapest starts at €13,190 with petrol engine and €600 more if it is the variant that can also use LPG (or Autogas) and, therefore, with the right to wear the DGT environmental label.

Monopoly of LPG cars

In fact, this is his second big selling point. More than half of the units registered for the Sandero in 2023 are of this version. In reality, a terrain dominated with an iron fist by Dacia. First, because it has never stopped betting on this technology. Second, because the rest of the rivals have cleared the way for him.

LPG (or Autogas) Dispensers

In this sense, the few brands that also offer LPG cars do so on an ad hoc basis, not as a business strategy. And so, 86% of all Autogas cars and 4x4s registered this year were Dacia. And another 12.6% from the 'sister' brand Renault...

The CNG that never came to fruition

In the past, compressed natural gas (CNG) cars looked like they were going to compete among the cheapest alternative technologies. But only a few brands of the VW Group had it in their range, such as Seat or Skoda, which ended up deciding to abandon it while languishing due to the very slow development of a network of gas stations. The dramatic rise in the price of gas since the end of 2021, which tripled by a factor of three, put the finishing touches to it.

Seat Arona, second in the ranking of best sellers

So much so that, in the case of the trucks that also used it, they had to be idle for many months. For their operators, moving them lost even more money.

The result of the Sandero this year is not a flash in the pan either. In 2022 it was second and very close to the Hyundai Tucson, leader against all odds for a car with an average price of about 35,000 euros. He is now seventh. And third then, but second this year, the Seat Arona is a small SUV that starts at 22,300 euros but is offered exclusively with petrol engines. Therefore, only with the C label.

The market share of the different technologies. Passenger cars in 2023

950,000 cars in 2023

Thus, you have to go down to third position to find a hybrid model, the Toyota Corolla, followed by the Peugeot 2008 (petrol or 100% electric); then comes another Toyota hybrid, the C-HR and, to the hilt, we find the MG ZS. Yes, the Chinese SUV that made history by leading sales in Spain during August and September. It has not been repeated, but two months later it has 17,255 registrations, almost 100% of its petrol version. Extremely cheap, by the way.

All the data comes from the statistics of Anfac, Faconauto and Ganvam, released yesterday. They show a market that, after registering 867,587 units between January and November (+17.9%), is on track to close the year with 950,000 cars. That is, below one million units for the fourth consecutive year and a far cry from the 1.25 million cars in 2019. On the positive side, however, it is important to highlight the good performance of demand from individuals.

Sales of passenger cars by technology in November.

Toyota and the Hybrid Flip

A global scenario dominated by Toyota, with 73,560 vehicles, 12,300 more than Kia, which ensures that it repeats its leadership at the end of the year. The key, in its case, is the high acceptance of its many hybrid models. Especially those that don't require a plug. This typology, which also includes the so-called light hybrids, has already become the second with the highest share, almost 32%.

It is only ahead of pure petrol cars, which account for four out of every 10 registrations. Where are pure electrics and plug-in hybrids, which are the only ones with purchase subsidies? Well, they are growing at a very good pace, given that they also come from very low volumes, but with marginal market shares: 5.5% and 6.3%, respectively.

The Toyota Corolla, always a hybrid, is the third best-selling car.

Second in Europe

One last note, going back to the Sandero. In October, the last month for which data is available, it became the best-selling car in Europe after surpassing the Tesla Model Y, an electric SUV that the brand has reduced in price by up to two times this year.

October's push allowed the Dacia to close the gap on Tesla, with 196,121 units to 209,503, according to consultancy Jato Dynamics. In this they take it for granted that the positions will be maintained between now and the end of the year, although in the last month the Sandero endorsed a difference of almost 11,600 cars. And hope, that of Dacia, is the last thing to be lost.

  • Motor industry