Brought to you by Castrol EDGE
Dacia is an automotive brand that may not be familiar to a lot of Aussies, but in Europe, it’s a big deal. Born in Romania from an alliance with Renault in the 1960s and relaunched under Renault Group ownership in 2004, Dacia has gone from strength to strength, leading market segments in Europe and selling more than 7.5 million vehicles in the past 16 years.
More recently, Dacia has been developing their own style and distinct brand identity away from Renault. The Manifesto concept is a representation of that, as well as some automotive developments that seem like science-fiction now, but may become fact very soon…
Thanks to their range of hardy SUVs, like the Duster and Jogger, Dacia has become popular with younger European buyers who enjoy the outdoors and an active lifestyle. The Manifesto taps into that as a go-anywhere vehicle with some very clever innovations built in, as well as environmental considerations in its design, manufacture and running gear.
“As we were developing and exploring new ideas, we felt we needed to push them past 3D simulations and see what they look like in real life,” said David Durand, Dacia Design Director, in explaining the Manifesto’s creation.
“As well as being a design object, Manifesto encapsulates our vision and combines a wide range of innovations - some involve extreme implementation, but they are still affordable for customers. We will be using a few of them on future Dacia models.”
Looking Ahead – With No Barriers
Sized and styled like an off-road buggy, the two-seater Manifesto is what Dacia call a “laboratory of ideas”; some of which will find their way onto future Dacia production models.
“Beyond our models, we are also working on innovative features that match our customers’ need and lifestyles even more closely,” said Lionel Jaillet, Dacia Product Performance Director. “Manifesto is a ‘lab’ to try out and mock up new ideas. The version you see today will keep on evolving as we keep on exploring!”
The Manifesto brings its occupants closer to nature and the open air – literally – as there are no doors, side windows or even a windscreen. There is a roof, though, with projecting front and rear sunvisors to offer some weather protection, but the roof is designed more as a mount point for camping gear, kayaks, mountain bikes and the like.
The roof features movable bars as part of a modular system that allows a variety of items to be carried safely, while perforations permit rope or bungee cords to be threaded through for additional cargo security.
Given it has no real weather protection, the Manifesto’s interior is completely waterproof, allowing it to be hosed out after a weekend’s adventure.
Sit – and Sleep
Some of the really clever features on the Manifesto start with the seats, which feature removable coverings that double as sleeping bags.
There’s no infotainment system, so the concept relies on the user’s smartphone (which can be attached to the dash) to display and access all the data needed from the concept’s on-board computer.
While there is an instrument pod, this displays only speed and what gear the electric-powered concept is in. Ahead of this, a section of the dash is lined with cork, allowing things like a paper map to be pinned in place.
Additionally, the cabin features Dacia’s ‘YouClip’ system that allows a variety of accessories, like cup holders and GPS mounts, to be added. Closer to reality than some of the Manifesto’s other features, YouClip is due to be included on Dacia’s production models from 2024.
Other innovations include the single headlight, which can be detached to use as a torch, while at the rear, a flat surface above the tail lights is designed to be used as a workbench.
The perforated treatment on the roof also features at the rear and on the flanks, allowing items to be carried externally in a similar way to Morgan's latest 3Wheeler. In the case of Morgan, this “outboard” approach to carrying cargo overcomes a lack of storage space inside. For the Manifesto concept, it’s more about maximising the utility of the vehicle wherever possible.
Green Power and a Green Build
While the Manifesto is said to be electrically powered, Dacia have provided no details on the nature of the drivetrain, other than to say it uses removable batteries and drives all four wheels, with the flexibility to be powered by other means, too, including conventional petrol and diesel engines.
The batteries incorporate household plug outlets, allowing phones to be charged and laptops, lighting and electrical appliances to be used when off the grid.
The tyres are another intriguing part of the Manifesto design. Measuring a significant 33.5 inches in diameter, they’re solid with hollow sections, meaning they have some flexibility while being puncture-proof and light in weight. The entire vehicle is said to weigh only 720kg.
The body, what little of it there is, is made using a material called Starkle that carries a high percentage of recycled plastics and is said to be able to withstand the toughest terrain. Starkle is due to be incorporated into production Dacias soon.
Natural materials, like the aforementioned cork dash trim, feature throughout the concept, while there’s no chrome anywhere, reflecting the broader Dacia design ethos.
With the Manifesto concept, Dacia are showing not only their innovative approach to automotive design and technology, but also their vision for what they say is a vehicle with a minimal environmental footprint.