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Citroen explains sales situation

No lemons: Citroen is waiting with bated breath for new more lively models to invigorate the range alongside the C4 Picasso and freshly hatched C4 Cactus.

Image the focus for Citroen, not 'vanity' volume

11 Mar 2016

CITROEN Automobiles Australia has explained its spiralling sales volume is the result of not succumbing to “vanity” volume, as the brand aims to improve its image and resale values.

“If you take what Citroen has never done very well in the past, it’s build residual value into their products,” Citroen Automobiles Australia national sales manager Shaun Mackle told GoAuto at the national media launch of the C4 Cactus this week.

Mr Mackle went on to say that the company was still working to resolve a legacy left by the brand's previous importer and distributor Ateco Automotive, which had a different approach to sales of Citroen products in Australia.

“It’s because they would bring in cars that either weren’t specced correctly or weren’t priced correctly and the only way to fix that was with price,” he said.

Mr Mackle explained that Citroen has been in a holding pattern awaiting new products, such as the C4 Cactus, to complement the C4 Picasso and Grand Picasso that represent a new direction for the French brand.

“For us to have an assault on the marketplace before Cactus, it doesn’t work,” he said.

“The pleasing thing about Cactus is that it still appeals to someone who wants something quite normal, it’s unique enough but some people come in and say ‘oh I’ll just have a white one, thanks’.

“Grand Picasso for Citroen was the first car that came along that looked like a Citroen, felt like a Citroen, it was brilliantly put together and customers love it, and Cactus builds on that.” Citroen Automobiles Australia PR and communications Tyson Bowen added to Mr Mackle's sentiments regarding future lineup: “It’s just got to be the right product for our market, which is why we removed some products from our market.” “C4 Aircross didn’t fit the brand, so it was logical for us to stop bringing it in, and C3 we’re on record as saying the car didn’t quite fit the bill for what we needed so we’ll wait,” he said.

“Grand Picasso and Picasso definitely has a place, Cactus definitely has a place, and then to an extent whatever happens with C3 and those vehicles in time, we’re just starting to learn about that and it’s very early in time.” “There’s a little bit of shuffling in the background (still) needing to happen.” The removal of models and holding pattern until new ones arrive explains why Citroen sales trickled to 1106 units in 2015, down 15.4 per cent on 2014. In the first two months of 2016, sales have fallen a further 6.3 per cent compared with the same period last year.

“The volume may have dropped last year, but I guess volume is vanity in a way because if you just bring in cars and discount the hell out of them, you erode your customer experience anyway,” Mr Mackle explained.

“If you look at last year’s decline it came out of C3, C4, which are all models that we ran out or discontinued, so come last year we had nothing under $35,000,” he added, referring to the entry price of the $33,990 DS3 and $34,990 DS4, models that continue to be counted under Citroen sales volume in Australia.

“When your brand is small, and starts at $35,000, it’s an interesting proposition. Cactus should give us the volume that we lost from C3 and C4,” Mr Mackle said.

Discussing the reasons behind pausing the importation of the C4 small hatchback, Mr Mackle said the success of the brand rests on new generation models coming down the line, but there are big plans to then help Citroen grow locally.

He confirmed that Citroen Automobiles Australia is “evaluating some of those future value programs” in order to improve brand perception in this market, but added that “six-year warranty is the first big step.”

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