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Citroen delighted by DS disconnection

Prickly pair: Citroen is excited for a future independent of the DS premium brand, with more trend-bucking vehicles to follow the C4 Cactus (left), including a potential production Aircross (below).

'Fantastic opportunity' for Citroen following DS separation

30 Oct 2015

CITROEN is looking forward to a future without its premium sub-brand DS in tow, and says the separation offers the company an opportunity to nurture a new and stronger identity for itself.

The French car maker made the decision to divide the company in 2010 so that the more premium and luxury-focused DS branch could go after the big German players, but that hasn't left its sister brand without a unique selling proposition, according to Citroen.

Speaking exclusively to GoAuto at the Tokyo motor show this week, Citroen chief executive officer Linda Jackson said that rather than starving the company of an asset, the break from DS has opened up broader horizons for the company.

“No, I see it the opposite way, actually,” she said. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for us, because now what Citroen can do is concentrate 100 per cent on what they are really good at, which is positioning.

“When you’ve got a premium brand and a mainstream brand, it can become quite complicated. Now it gives us the opportunity 100 per cent in terms of our product, which is very different from DS, and in terms of the way we come to market.

“We have the ability to really push forward the Citroen brand in a bold and audacious way and you cant do that when you are trying to mix a premium brand and a mainstream brand.”

 center imageLeft: Citroen CEO Linda Jackson.With more freedom to explore what the Citroen brand can do on its own two feet, Ms Jackson, who formerly headed up Citroen UK, said more playful models that follow in the footsteps of the C4 Cactus compact crossover could be expected.

“Of the three brands in the group, Citroen is the one that can dare to do things a little bit differently – and that’s what we are going to do in the future,” she said. “C4 Cactus is bright, colourful and completely bucking all trends, and that’s where we are going to take Citroen.”

One possibility is a production version of the Aircross SUV concept that debuted at the Shanghai motor show in April this year, and while Ms Jackson could not confirm if a road-going version was under development, she said that one would be very welcome.

“I want an SUV in my line-up. Clearly it’s a concept but if we were to have an SUV it would be what we would like.”

A showroom version of the Aircross would potentially be well received in Australia's SUV-heavy market, and Ms Jackson said the company had a renewed focus on selecting the right line-up for Australia.

“It’s quite simple. It’s about introducing vehicles that are appropriate and have been adapted for the market,” she said. “It’s something we may not have done in the past, but we are certainly changing it and vehicles like the Cactus is going to change it.

“It goes into Australia next year and that’s the start of building the brand.

It’s so much easier repositioning a brand when you’ve got the products to go with it.”

One feature that may hamstring the Cactus' chances when it lands in February next year, though, is its availability in petrol guise only with a manual gearbox, but Ms Jackson said the renewed attention on Australia could result in a more attractive version Down Under.

“That’s what we are looking at at the moment,” she said. “I can't confirm exactly, but what we want to do is make sure we have the right vehicle for Australia.”

The Cactus will also be available here as a diesel variant coupled with a robotised manual/auto transmission.

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