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Future models - Citroen - C3

DS point-of-difference the key for Citroen in Australia

Minor surgery: Citroen’s facelifted C3 is about to go on sale in Europe and is due in Australia in September.

Refreshed C3 and DS3 Cabrio to headline Citroen’s local model push for 2013

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Citroen logo2 Apr 2013

By TIM NICHOLSON

NEW Citroen Australia importer Sime Darby has an eye on returning the brand to its Australian sales highs of 2007, as well as re-launching a trio of premium DS models.

The ball will start to roll with the arrival of the new soft-top DS3 hatch in July, which is also expected to afford the company the chance to promote is fashion-focused sub-brand in its entirety.

That, plus several new or facelifted versions of its mainstream C-line models due over the next eighteen months, will give the niche brand the ammunition to chase its target of returning to where it was five years ago Down Under.

At the media launch of the C4 Aircross compact SUV this week, Citroen Automobiles Australia general manager John Startari said he hoped for a 35 per cent increase in sales for the 2013-14 financial year.

Citroen recorded overall sales of 1702 vehicles in Australia in 2012 and while the company has not projected sales beyond 2014, Mr Startari said that he hoped continued growth would mean bettering the 3803 sales it recorded in 2007.

“We haven’t put out any long-term figures but it would be nice to exceed the previous highs of 2007, that’s pretty much the goal for us but we are not going to compromise (our) strategy.

“We want to sell the right number of cars with the right package. We are not under volume pressure to push cars out the door and we want to get it right,” he said.

Mr Startari said that Citroen would increase promotion and advertising for the C-line and DS range, but that the strategy was still being finalised.

“It will involve a lot more mainstream (advertising) than what you have seen in the past but there will be a lot of targeted campaigns especially with DS.” The launch of the DS3 Cabrio in July will give Citroen the chance to promote its entire DS range which includes the DS4 hatch and C5-based DS5 flagship.

Mr Startari said that buyers are unsure of some of the models in the DS range with the DS5 the most misunderstood of the three.

“The DS5 is unique. Just in terms of its size and styling, we are carving out a new segment. It is very different,” he said.

“That’s the beauty of the DS product, other than DS3 which you could probably name a few competitors, but DS4 is really on its own and it’s a car that’s not that well understood so its important that we communicate what that car is about.

Despite Citroen’s parent company PSA recording a €4.7 billion ($A6.2bn) loss in 2012 Mr Startari said he was not concerned about the European giant’s financial situation.

“Every discussion we have had has been purely on business grounds and there has never been any restraints on requests for support for things like marketing activity, so as far as we are concerned as an independent distributor, it doesn’t affect this country so it doesn’t affect us.” The refreshed C3 that premiered at the Geneva show in March features a restyled front end with bumper-mounted LED daytime running lights, a re-designed tail-light cluster and a new 1.2-litre engine three-cylinder engine that will be 25 per cent more fuel efficient than the outgoing four-cylinder version.

A replacement for the aging C4 Grand Picasso people mover is also imminent, with Mr Startari confirming an arrival sometime next year.

The Technospace concept that was revealed at this year’s Geneva show will form the basis of the next short-wheelbase Picasso but not the next-gen Grand Picasso.

Mr Startari said that Citroen’s Australian operation is undertaking a business case to assess the viability of bringing the diesel-electric all-wheel drive DS5 Hybrid4 to Australia.

“It is our first venture into hybrid and the tooling costs and technical requirements have to be justified.

“It would be a great car to have because it would be our flagship – it’s four-wheel drive and hybrid - but it’s got to come down to feasibility.”

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