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DS  Top 3: Last year, the top-selling DS model was the DS3 with 71 sales, while the Berlingo light van Citroen’s most popular model with 298 sales.

Top 3: Last year, the top-selling DS model was the DS3 with 71 sales, while the Berlingo light van Citroen’s most popular model with 298 sales.

Low brand volume and awareness forces DS to keep cuddling Citroen

PSA Peugeot Citroen split DS off as its own standalone brand 18 months ago, but they will not be separating in Australia until at least 2018, the incoming general manager of the local distributor, Kai Bruesewitz, has revealed.

Speaking with GoAuto at his first official appearance in the role, at the national media launch of the C4 Cactus in New South Wales, the former Mini Australia chief said “it must make sense” to split DS from Citroen locally.

“We shouldn’t split it (Citroen and DS) just for the sake of splitting it,” Mr Bruesewitz said.

“The volume for Citroen is relatively low, and if you want to then split up another brand from that low volume … then I don’t think it’s viable in the short term,” he added.

Last year sales for the DS3 light hatch and cabrio, DS4 small hatchback and DS5 mid-size hatch totalled 183 sales as part of Citroen’s total 1106 annual sales figure.

“We have to look very carefully into this, because we want to have a sustainable and profitable dealer network,” he said.

“So we have to find a way to incorporate new DS into existing showrooms … and separate it with minor cost implications. We have to sit down and (ask) does every dealer need a DS franchise? Or is it focused in certain areas? That’s I guess what I would be thinking and we have to get more background.”

Asked how many models DS would require to sufficiently be seen as its own brand, the general manager replied, “I guess it would probably need four models, not necessarily more (as) we want to keep the complexity of all three brands manageable.”

“Absolutely you need an SUV, and as much as I read I think there is something in the planning from SUV and DS,” he added.

“We don’t get unlimited resources, the workforce here has to take care of all three brands and I would say probably roughly four models to cover the spectrum and demand.”

The relatively recent global decision to separate DS from Citroen meant the DS3, DS4 and DS5 were rebadged from initially wearing the double chevron logo.

In October last year, Australian distributor Sime Darby launched the DS brand in its own right when it released the facelifted DS5, but the company said at the time that a complete transition to DS Automobiles would take some time.

Citroen Automobiles Australia national sales manager Shaun Mackle explained that ‘time lag’ is even more of an issue with DS than it is with Citroen.

“For Grand Picasso and Cactus, planning started five or six year ago (but) for DS, two years ago they decided they were going to split the DS brand apart, so logically 2018 or 2019 is when I think we’ll see the fruits of that focus,” he said.

“If the product that is coming down the pipe is half as good as we’re led to believe then DS will sit completely separate, Peugeot will sit completely separate and Citroen will be separate.”

PSA Peugeot Citroen has confirmed six next-generation DS models will arrive in the global market before 2020, with the first to land by 2018. It is expected to be a large luxury sedan called the DS8.

Replacements for the DS3, DS4 and DS5 will make up six new models, while the remaining additions are expected to include a DS3-based small SUV and DS6 mid-size SUV replacement for the DS 6WR that is currently a China-only model.

“When you see the fruits of that (including) the concept car that was just released at Geneva (motor show), they will get there and I think we need to be gradual in the process,” Mr Mackle added.

The DS E-Tense shown at March’s Geneva motor show followed other DS concept cars rumoured to preview next-generation production models, including the DS Divine Concept from 2014 thought to preview the DS8.

In the short term, the facelifted DS3 will arrive in Australia late this year armed with an automatic transmission for the first time since its introduction in 2011 and expected to be a key selling feature.

The facelifted version of the DS3 Racing with a 300Nm 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and mechanical limited-slip differential (LSD) is also all but confirmed to complement the line-up for the first time.

DS  Top 3: Last year, the top-selling DS model was the DS3 with 71 sales, while the Berlingo light van Citroen’s most popular model with 298 sales.

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