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Future models - Citroen - Ute

Peugeot Citroen ute rumoured

French flatbed: Fiat, Renault, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen have all signalled their intention to enter the one-tonne ute fray with Japanese joint-venture partners – and PSA Peugeot Citroen looks set to follow suit.

PSA Peugeot Citroen’s Toyota ties could lead to HiLux-based ute with French branding

Citroen logo31 Mar 2016

PSA Peugeot Citroen is expected to announce plans to follow other Euro brands Fiat, Renault, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen into the one-tonne ute market on April 5.

The French conglomerate’s commercial vehicle partnership with Toyota could even result in the PSA ute being co-developed with the iconic HiLux.

Reporting from this week’s launch of the Citroen Dispatch and Peugeot Expert mid-size vans, British publication Autocar said Peugeot CEO Maxime Picat and PSA Europe CEO Denis Martin both “fended off questions about joining the pick-up market, saying an announcement was due next week”.

Tyson Bowen, PR and communications manager for Australian Peugeot-Citroen importer Sime Darby, confirmed to GoAuto that “on April 5 PSA will have a session where they outline their plans for the near future”.

Mr Bowen agreed that utes were “certainly a very buoyant segment in Australia”, adding that for Sime Darby, “having something in that segment would be great”.

However, he said: “Any discussion around any potential ute is speculation … there is absolutely nothing official.

“If it was something that was available we’d have to consider it in the same way we are considering the whole light commercial vehicle plan at the moment.” Speculation around which development partner PSA will select for the ute centres around Fiat and Toyota, both of which have existing commercial vehicle relationships with the French company.

That said, the French-Italian relationship will wind down from 2017, and Fiat revealed its hand with the Mitsubishi Triton-based Fullback ute at the Dubai motor show last November, leaving Toyota in contention with its highly regarded HiLux.

Asked about the Toyota connection, Mr Bowen simply referred to the existing relationship under which the Citroen Dispatch/Peugeot Expert vans are also sold in Europe as the Toyota ProAce.

“It’s all speculative,” he said. “The only discussions they (PSA) are having at present about a vehicle in JV with Toyota is the Expert or French-market Jumpy which was sold here as Dispatch.” Along with the Amarok, the HiLux is among a minority of ute nameplates thriving without a co-production partnership deal. Toyota might not feel the need to muddy the waters by sharing its ‘unbreakable’ vehicle with other brands.

Another possible PSA partner is Mazda, which recently poured cold water on the idea it will buddy up with Toyota for the next-generation BT-50 but still needs a partner for the project.

Having recently linked with Fiat to produce the MX-5/124 Spider sportscar duo, is Mazda is clearly not averse to European collaborations.

PSA got into bed with Toyota in 2002 when a the pair established a joint-venture to build the Citroen C1, Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo city cars in the Czech Republic.

In mid-2012 the relationship between the French and Japanese manufacturers was extended with an agreement for Toyota to sell a van based on the Citroen Dispatch and Peugeot Expert, built in the same factory called ProAce.

At the time, PSA spokesman Pierre-Olivier Salmon told Bloomberg that part of the requirement to keep building vans in Europe was “to undo the joint venture with Fiat, to find a new partner”.

The PSA-Toyota partnership continues to blossom with just-revealed, all-new versions of the mid-sized vans.

Since 1996 Fiat has marketed a version of the Dispatch/Expert under the Scudo nameplate but last week revealed the first manifestation of its split from PSA with the Renault Trafic-based Talento mid-size van, which will also be sold as the Opel/Vauxhall Vivaro and Nissan NV300.

The compact Citroen Nemo/Peugeot Bipper micro-vans are a rebadged Fiat Fiorino, while the Citroen Relay/Peugeot Boxer full-size van is a Fiat Ducato.

A plan to end the PSA-Fiat partnership was announced in May 2011, with a caveat extending the Relay/Boxer/Ducato agreement to 2019.

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