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Sandero’s UK launch put back until 2010

UK dealers preparing to sell the Renault’s sub-£7,000 Dacia Sandero will have to wait another year, until early 2010, for the budget car.

Between 90 and 100 Renault franchise holders, who were poised to sign up for the bolt-on ‘value brand’ subsidiary, have learned that existing left-hand drive markets have been given production priority.

Retailers were due to attend preview events this summer, ready for its originally planned 2009 market arrival. These have now been cancelled.

And frustrated staff at head office had planned provisionally to include the Romanian-built hatchback on Renault’s 16-car stand at next month’s London International Motor Show.

A non-Renault source, involved in the Dacia project, said: "We are not over happy that Sandero has been canned for 12 months. Thankfully we are not too far down the road. But meetings were planned over the next few weeks to finalise infrastructure details.”

With Renault’s UK sales down 13.5%, and Laguna underperforming, Sandero offered potential incremental volume and revenue to dealers. But the delay was “not entirely surprising”, said Robin Cook, chairman of the Renault Dealers’ Association.

He added: “From a network perspective we had not even reached a planning stage. There was an indication that 90 to 100 dealers would be required but, to my knowledge, no discussions have taken place with dealers regarding any form of representation.”

Cook said: “No definite dates were set, nor has there been confirmation of the exact method of distribution, applicable franchise standards, margin structure, pricing, etc.”

Admitting that the concept of having an “extremely competitive entry product” was attractive, he cautioned: “It is not possible to make an informed decision about participation until we have all the relevant information.”

British dealers are envious of their Continental counterparts, who since 2005 have sold LHD-only Dacia Logans, which generated a 68% volume rise last year to 80,000 units in western Europe. UK retailers will be hopeful that Sandero does not emulate the Twingo, which took 14 years to arrive in UK showrooms.

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