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Peugeot  New focus: Peugeot is chasing big sales growth in Australia with a rejuvenation of its model range, beginning with the 508 large car.

New focus: Peugeot is chasing big sales growth in Australia with a rejuvenation of its model range, beginning with the 508 large car.

Fleet focus, fresh product to push French brand past 10,000 sales within three years

BEGINNING this month, Peugeot Automobiles Australia is preparing an all-out assault on fleet as well as private buyers with at least 10 new models in the pipeline by the end of 2013.

Bolstered by a fixed-price servicing plan aimed at dispelling the notion of European cars being expensive to own, the French company is targeting a 70 per cent sales lift between 2010 and 2013, taking Peugeot beyond 10,000 annual sales for the first time in Australia.

Last year the total was just over 5600 sales for a 0.5 per cent market share, while the forecasts for 2011 and 2012 are 6500 (0.6 per cent) and 8500 (0.8 per cent) respectively.

Kicking off the volume drive this month is the just-released replacement for the slow-selling 407, the mid-size 508 sedan and wagon range, which places an emphasis on elegant design, improved quality, better packaging, low emissions and dynamic performance.

The 508 also introduces Peugeot’s ‘Assured Service’ campaign, which in this case brings a fixed annual service price of $330 over a three-year/60,000km period (the warranty remains at 100,000km over the same timeframe).

Designed to help lure novated lease (user-chooser) buyers away from models like the Ford Mondeo, Honda Accord Euro and Holden Commodore, Peugeot says it represents a saving of about $1000 and covers the cost of labour, parts and consumables.

Peugeot center imageFrom top: Peugeot 308 hatch, Touring and convertible, 508 RXH, 3008 Hybrid4.

Speaking at the 508 launch in Melbourne last week, Peugeot Automobiles Australia general manager Ken Thomas said the 508 provided the company with a better opportunity to chase fleet sales more aggressively. Private buyers currently account for 70 per cent of Peugeot’s total Australian sales.

“Fleet sales represent a sizeable percentage of the medium and large car segment, and salary sacrificing has become quite popular over the last five years or so,” he said.

“There are businesses out there that specialise in helping user-choosers to buy cars more effectively, so we recognise that it is another form of car buying.

“A couple of fleet managers have told us that this is a growing market and as a consequence it is not your traditional fleet buyer but a type of retail buyer in another form.

“But their criteria isn’t just about the car; it’s also about the whole-of-life costs. It is now a critical part of the buying equation… and when you are talking about cars in the over-$35,000 bracket, you are starting to talk to a very different type of customer.

“We were always aware that service is a big question mark – not just with our brand but other European marques as well. I think there is always a perception (of high costs)… so we came up with a plan that removes that doubt. There was a perception there could be a big cost come service time - we have now removed that.

“It will be one of Peugeot’s unique selling propositions moving forward.”

From August the facelifted 308 hatch and Touring wagon range arrives, and it too is offered with fixed-price servicing.

Known as the Series II and brandishing a smoother and more contemporary nose to connect the 308 with the 508, Peugeot’s long-time best-seller spreads its wings with a new entry-level version known as the Access in 1.4-litre hatch and 1.6-litre wagon variants to better compete with the high-flying Volkswagen Golf and Mazda3.

Low-emissions motoring Peugeot-style will arrive in the form of the 308 (and 508) eHDi models with ‘Stop-and-Start’ idle cut-off technology in October, along with the 308 CC Series II coupe-convertible.

December will bring a petrol-powered entry-level version of the 508, using a THP 115kW 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine co-developed with BMW.

Still staying with the green theme, Peugeot will also furrow fresh ground with the long-awaited diesel-electric Hybrid4 eco versions of the 508 and 3008 crossover.

Designed to appeal to a completely different set of customers, the 3008 Hybrid4 crossover wagon will arrive in the second quarter of 2012, followed by the high-riding 508 RXH Hybrid4 wagon, which was previewed last week ahead of its world debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September, in the third quarter of next year.

Due on sale by mid-2012, however, is Peugeot’s first sub-$30,000 compact SUV, which should give the historic French brand a healthy sales jump.

Based on the existing Mitsubishi ASX and dubbed the 4008, the Japanese-built front- and four-wheel drive five-seater wagon will bring unique interior and exterior styling and, possibly, both petrol and diesel engines.

The hive of activity for 2012 doesn’t end there, thanks to a further pair of important newcomers that should make waves in the Australian market.

Peugeot hopes that Australia will see the mid-sized 408 sedan imported from Malaysia before the year is out. A booted and stretched version of the existing 308 hatch, it will slot between the small hatch and the new 508 sedan, which has grown so much over its 407 predecessor that it will be classed as a large car by official industry sales statistician VFACTS.

Before the 408 sedan arrives in late 2012, however, the ageing 207 light-car will make way for its 208 replacement here in the third quarter of next year.

Expect a concept version of Peugeot’s all-new supermini hatch, which some Peugeot insiders claim will recapture the stylistic elegance of the famous 205, to appear at Frankfurt in September, before the real thing bursts onto the scene at the Geneva show next March.

Better still, Mr Thomas said a GTI hot-hatch variant is almost guaranteed to be part of next year’s 208 launch range.

“The company has realised it is missing the heritage of GTI,” he admitted.

“There are plenty of other companies out there that are doing very well with GTI-based products in Europe – VW is a good example with Polo and Golf GTI and so is Renault.

“I think there is a lot of sentiment that goes back to the years of 205 GTI that would be promoting the idea of Peugeot producing another GTI.

“I suggest some sensitive announcements might be made at Frankfurt… and if not certainly by Geneva next year.”

“But I don’t know what the car would be exactly. I do know there is a body style that accommodates the GTI, but I have no idea what is under the bonnet.

“It could be the 147kW 1.6-litre turbo we run in the RCZ and 308, but I have no idea if that is engineer-able for the 208. Maybe they’re developing a new engine – Peugeot are doing a lot of work with BMW in petrol turbo engines, so you might find a 1.4-litre turbo engine producing enormous kilowatts.”

Finally, the replacement for Peugeot’s smallest model, Europe’s 107 city-hatch, is in the pipeline for 2013.

There is no guarantee the sub-B-segment supermini will be released here, but the Australian Peugeot distributor has long been keen on the 107’s successor and has confirmed it will seek to homologate the all-new 108 for the Australian Design Rules next year.

Like the 107, the sub-208 108 will once again share its foundations with Citroen’s C1 and Toyota’s Aygo, and if sold here would give the French car-maker a stronger presence in Australia’s burgeoning baby-car class.



What’s coming from Peugeot:

508 HDI sedan and Touring - July 2011
308 II hatch and Touring - August 2011
308CC II - October 2011
508 eHDI - October 2011
508 THP - December 2011
4008 compact SUV - Q2 2012
3008 Hybrid4 - Q2 2012
508 Hybrid4 RXH - Q3 2012
208 hatch including GTI - Q3 2012
108 sub-light car - 2013


Peugeot  New focus: Peugeot is chasing big sales growth in Australia with a rejuvenation of its model range, beginning with the 508 large car.





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