20 April 2022

Dacia, designed to last!

Known to be both affordable and reliable, Dacia cars are also widely renowned for being built with robust parts. It is not unusual to see Logan and Duster cars with a few hundred thousand miles on the metre! This reputation is not due sheer luck. The longevity of Dacia cars (still) remains a well-kept secret known only to those in the two labs located at the Titu Technical Centre. Situated 45 minutes northwest of Bucharest, Romania, Dacia engineers put the interior and exterior parts of all models through rigorous testing to check their quality and strength. Why? To guarantee customers that their car can stand the tests of time. How? Accelerated aging. Let’s take a dive into the unique world inside the laboratories.

How can you guarantee drivers that a new car will be stay in top shape for years to come, and even after a few hundred thousand miles? For Dacia, the answer to that question lies in Titu, where thousands of tests are carried out every year to check the strength of plastic and metal parts used on its Sandero, Duster, and Jogger models. Two laboratories equipped with numerous aging and corrosion tools to simulate the different ways the vehicles are used, and the various real-life weather conditions drivers may encounter. Unique experiments that Nicoleta and Simina have been conducting for years as laboratory project leads.





Thanks to testing methods created in laboratories at the Titu Technical Centre, we can guarantee that the parts used on Dacia vehicles are top quality.


Nicoleta, Polymer Aging Specialist



 

WELCOME TO TITU

The Titu Technical Centre is located near Bucharest. In the heart of the Romanian countryside stands the ultra-modern complex that was opened in 2010. 600 people, 350 hectares of testing areas, and a network of outdoor test tracks: the key ingredients to guarantee the level of quality one expects on Dacia’s latest vehicles. Within the centre lies two laboratories dedicated to the material durability where each model is put through a gamut of accelerated aging tests. In just a few weeks, the tests reflect years of real-life ageing and various weather conditions. Passionate experts then closely analyse every sample of each material. Enjoy the tour!


Technical Center in Titu, Romania

3,000 HOURS UNDER THE SUN

First stop on the tour: the polymer and fluid durability centre. Included in the range of tested parts are those made of plastic. Shaped and moulded into a multitude of shapes, plastics are major component of car interiors: dashboard, gearbox, doors… it's everywhere! It goes without saying that if the car uses poor quality plastic, then a large portion of all the parts will inevitably deteriorate over time.

Opened in 2017, the laboratory is home to Nicoleta who analyses the impact that atmospheric conditions and different vehicle usage can have on the appearance and quality of parts. For example, UV rays, heat, and bad weather can cause plastic parts to bleach, fade, or even lose their original sheen.


Accelerated aging cabin

Every day in the laboratory testing chambers, numerous samples are exposed to UV rays for up to 3,000 hours in all. The parts are exposed to radiation levels like that which they would endure over several years of sun exposure. Samples also spend several weeks in weather chambers that recreate extreme temperature and humidity conditions, ranging from -40°C to +100°C. The aim is to test how parts resist in all environments. Once having been put through their paces in the testing chambers, they are then analysed and compared against an unaged control sample.

Simply using a car may also have a negative impact on the appearance of plastic parts. A bicycle, keys, or a ring for example, may cause damage that will leave lasting marks on the car’s body or interior. As such, all plastics are put through scratch testing. In concrete terms, a metal screw is scraped down the length and width of selected samples multiple times. Scratches, which are inevitable, should be superficial and not alter the plastic’s properties.

Over time, parts can also twist, curl, or even break. And so, a traction machine is used in the polymer and fluid durability laboratory to stretch the plastic to test its breaking point.

Only materials that pass all tests are used in the final production.

CORROSION-PROOF METAL

Opened in 2015, the corrosion centre is the second unique laboratory in Titu. All metal parts are put through screening processes in the accelerated corrosion chamber. Paint protects metals parts on new cars, but an accident or scratch that damages the paint exposing the metal beneath means a greater risk of corrosion.


Customers may eventually scratch their car, so we must ensure that corrosion remains superficial and does not spread. We carry out nearly 2,000 tests each year to guarantee the quality of the metal parts we use.


Simina, Corrosion Project Manager

 

In addition to small samples, entire parts such as the hood, tailgate, doors, and chassis plate are also tested. Chrome and galvanized parts such as brake drums and discs, screws, and emblems are also put through their paces. They are immersed in the corrosion chamber where they are exposed to extreme weather conditions with temperature, humidity, and air quality composition variations. Leaving this chamber, corrosion around the scratches is analysed using a finely tuned scoring system.

In addition to simulating natural weather conditions, tests are used to analyse how chemicals affect bodywork. Found next to the corrosion chamber, a specific test is used to expose metal parts to chemicals such as windshield washer fluid or saline antifreeze.


Metal parts are tested in a corrosion chamber

Remaining tests take place in another room further on down a corridor in the gravel chambers. Quite self-explanatory, the method involves spraying parts with high-pressure gravel to ascertain the damage it can cause to the cars metal body. Paint, chrome plating, zinc plating… every protective layer is assessed to ensure that the vehicles meet the highest quality standards.

It is only once the full battery of exams has been successfully passed that the parts and materials are approved and allowed to be used Dacia’s brand-new vehicles, so every owner can reach the million-kilometre mark with their head held high.

Born in 1968 then relaunched by Renault Group from 2004 all across Europe and Mediterranean countries, Dacia has always offered the best value for money cars, by constantly redefining the essentials.

As a game-changer, Dacia proposes simple, multi-purpose, reliable cars in tune with customers’ lifestyles.

Dacia models became a reference on the market: Logan, the new car at the price of a used one; Sandero, the best-selling retail car in Europe each year since 2017; Duster, the best-selling SUV to European private customers since 2018; Spring, the champion of the accessible electric mobility; Jogger, the C-segment versatile family car.

Present in 44 countries, Dacia has sold more than 7,5 million vehicles since 2004.

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