The EV Powered Interview

Luke Broad: ‘Dacia wants to make the EV transition accessible’

Dacia has potentially transformed the EV market with the launch of its £14,995 Spring. So we sat down with brand director Luke Broad to find out more about the Spring, and how the brand aims to simplify EV ownership for drivers.

Tell us about the Spring and how Dacia has managed to make it so affordable.

What we like to say at Dacia – one of the things that we would have tattooed on our arms if we had to – is that Dacia is the best value for money brand that constantly redefines the essentials. And the Dacia Spring really embodies everything that Dacia is all about.

The car is an A-segment car, so think Renault Twingo, Fiat 500 size. It’s quite a small car, but it’s really designed for one purpose, and that is as a small city car. So it’s for people who are going to the shops and back, they might have the occasional journey up the dual carriageway.

And the way that we’ve managed to bring it to the market at such an affordable price is by looking at what is essential for the vast majority of EV owners today and building a car that caters to those essentials.

Is that what has been missing from the market until now?

Yes. Today, the majority of the market is heavy vehicles that have quite large batteries and therefore they also have quite large costs. That’s fine because those are right for a lot of people, but there’s also a lot of people who can’t afford the entry ticket to buy one of these cars. Electric vehicle ownership is just not within their capability today, so what we want to achieve with the Dacia Spring is to make it much more accessible for people to make that EV transition.

The car is available from £14,995 and it’s not like we’ve launched with a really cheap entry spec and then have a really expensive one. The top trim is only £16,995 with all the bells and whistles, such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and vehicle-to-load functionality.

This is not a basic car, it’s an essential car, and we’ve put into the car what people use and what adds value to their everyday lives. And we’ve done it at an affordable price, which stays true to the Dacia brand philosophy.

There are some compromises, so how did you settle on the right balance between range, charging speeds and keeping the cost down?

Dacia is lucky enough to be part of the Renault Group and we’ve been playing in the electric vehicle game now since 2010. So as a group, we have the expertise and the knowledge in this field and over that decade or more, we’ve got lots of data.

That data showed us people who buy Renault Group electric cars are travelling on average 23 miles per day. So we took this idea and said, well, if people are only travelling this far per day, do we actually need to design a car at Dacia that has a 400-mile range? While some people have requirement for this, and it’s really important to them, a lot of people don’t because they jump in their car, they take the kids to the school, they nip to the shop and back.

Dacia Spring

So we designed a car with a modest size battery – at 27kWh. It’s not huge, but because the battery isn’t huge, the car is under a tonne. And because it’s under a tonne, it’s not having to lug around a lot of weight and because it doesn’t have to lug around a lot of weight, it’s really efficient.

And it also means we’re not charging customers for a big heavy battery that they’re carrying around that the vast majority of people don’t use the full capability of.

It’s all about designing a car that is really specific and to be clear has its compromises for some people. I’m not going to say this car is for absolutely everybody. But for people using it as a second car or for people using it as a primary car within the city, it’s an interesting proposition because the price is right, the technology is right, and the efficiency is right.

Although the range is average – 186 miles urban, 137 miles mixed usage – for those people who are using it as a second car as a runaround, it actually it makes a lot of sense. And when you’re charging overnight at home on one of the 7 pence per kilowatt hour rates, you’re talking two quid to fill your car up. So the whole ownership model makes a lot of sense. And combined with that lower purchase price, it becomes quite difficult to ignore.

You clearly feel that lower price options are important in getting people into electric vehicles but is there still scope for support or incentives for private buyers? Or is it all down to car makers to build more cheap EVs?

I actually think it’s a bit of both. A lot of the battery electric vehicle sales today are being driven by fleet customers. These are vehicles bought through companies, effectively on salary sacrifice. But for retail customers battery electric cars have been challenging. On retail, could the government help? Of course, but we don’t count on government help.

The SMMT recently shared some interesting proposals that I think would really help stimulate retail demand on electric cars. This is things like halving the VAT rate on electric cars. It also includes things like the luxury tax VED rate on electric cars, perhaps reducing this and normalising it. And the third thing is reducing the VAT rate on public charging infrastructure so that it is aligned with charging your car at home.

They’re only small, but I would say significant incentives. And anything that the government will do will of course help stimulate retail demand.

One of the major barriers is, of course, price. So we addressed that with the Spring. But you also have the additional things that people are worried about. How do I charge? Range anxiety. All these things that we have to explain and discuss with our customers.

Is addressing those questions is something the industry still has to work on?

Yes. People are used to talking in miles per gallon. How big is the fuel tank in litres? All of a sudden you’re switching to a totally new vocabulary and people are asking what does all this mean? How much is all of this going to cost?

So I would say we need to explain in a very simple way to customers. It’s basic things like agreeing on a unified set of languages and how we measure things. We’re doing that slowly but surely and I think with this car in particular, because it is so simple and affordable and easy to use, we as a brand have an opportunity to demystify the whole EV buying experience.

Dacia Spring interior
Broad says the Spring delivers all the modern essentials

Spring is obviously Dacia’s main focus now but what’s next in terms of electrification for Dacia?

Because we are part of Renault Group and because all the R&D and investment has already been paid for by the Renault brand, it’s really easy. We just decide, what do we want to take? When do we want to take it? We can go [early], but the strategy is not to go with the market on Dacia. The strategy is to go as late as possible or when people are ready to make the switch.

We can be pretty flexible in when we decide to electrify our power trains. So if you ask me the question directly: ‘when will Dacia go fully electric?’, then my answer to you would be the 31st of December 2035.

We are the affordable mobility brand of Renault group. For people who want to be ahead of the times with technology, with mileage, with range, with all of this exciting, cool stuff, then we have a solution in Renault. But for those who want to maybe take things a bit slower, take things a bit more affordable and have technology that is proven, but is essential and adds value to their life, then we’re here for that. But of course, we will slowly but surely begin to electrify our entire range of products.

Click here to listen to The Everything EV Podcast episode with Luke Broad and be sure to like and subscribe!

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Matt Allan

Matt is Editor of EV Powered. He has worked in journalism for more than 20 years and been an automotive journalist for the last decade, covering every aspect of the industry, from new model reveals and reviews to consumer and driving advice. The former motoring editor of, The Scotsman and National World, Matt has watched the EV landscape transform beyond recognition over the last 10 years and developed a passion for electric vehicles and what they mean for the future of transport - from the smallest city cars to the biggest battery-powered trucks. When he’s not driving or writing about electric cars, he’s figuring out how to convert his classic VW camper to electric power.