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Cheapo Logan Zooms

Who would have believed it. Renault’s no-frills Logan model — dubbed on its 2004 debut as an ugly duckling by the industry — has grabbed 1 percent of the European market (including eastern Europe). It’s also sparked a “low-cost car” revolution in the auto industry. Analysts are forecasting 2007 Logan sales will top 400,000. For the first half, sales of the Logan were nearly 160,000, up 28.4%.

With a starting price of 6,000 euros (or $7,500) the Logan has fueled vigorous demand even in western Europe, where auto sales are flat or declining. A new 7-seater Logan minivan launched last fall (starting price 10,000 euros) which is more attractive than the basic sedan is the fastest selling model in some German Renault dealerships. But both sedan and minivan have a six-month wait in markets like Germany and France. Next in the pipeline is a low-cost pick-up built on the same platform — a likely winner in emerging markets.

If the Logan takes off in markets like India, Iran and Brazil, where it is rolling out this year, Renault Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn may well be crusing comfortably toward his goal of selling 1 million Logans a year by 2010. Ghosn (also CEO at Nissan) has plenty of work to do reversing a painful slide in sales. But the Logan is already reshaping Renault’s future.

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