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Citroen reloads for 3000 sales in 2011

Climbing back: Citroen’s new C3 range will be bolstered in 2011 with idle-stop technology for diesels and robotised manual gearboxes.

New small cars to boost Citroen sales as C3, DS3 take hold ahead of all-new C4, DS4

Citroen logo17 Nov 2010

By JOHN WRIGHT and TERRY MARTIN

CITROEN Australia has forecast a massive turnaround in its sales fortunes in Australia for 2011 and expects to almost double its annual volume to 3000 units as the newly launched C3 makes its impact felt and other fresh models join the fray.

Citroen Australia general manager Miles Williams told GoAuto at this week’s launch of the redesigned C3 light car – the previous version of which sold out in Australia in May – that the C3 and the more upmarket DS3 launched in September this year should account for around a third of its sales in 2011.

 center imageFrom top: Citroen C3, Citroen DS3, Citroen DS4, Citroen C4, Citroen C5, Citroen Australia general manager Miles Williams.

For the C3, which now starts below $20,000 for the baseline 1.4 VT petrol model, Mr Williams said almost half of its sales were expected to be for the mid-series VTR+ 1.6-litre petrol and diesel variants, with 20 per cent of buyers opting for the entry VT and 35 per cent for the range-topping Exclusive model lines.

Automatic idle-stop technology will be fitted to diesel-powered C3 models during 2011, already a feature of BMW’s Mini Cooper D which uses the same 1.6-litre turbo-diesel engine.

Five- and six-speed robotised manual gearboxes will also be offered on the C3 next year, while the three-cylinder petrol engine variant pitched at European markets with high CO2 taxes looks unlikely for Australia due to the costs involved in bringing the entry-level model here.

Mr Williams said Citroen Australia now had a small-car range that runs “all the way from $19,990 to the top of the DS3 in the mid-30s” – offering a broader level of appeal to prospective customers.

The launch of the C3 is expected to have an immediate positive effect on Citroen’s sales performance, which for the first 10 months of 2010 was down 5.1 per cent over the same period last year.

Year to date, the struggling French brand has managed only 1321 sales but Mr Williams is hoping to end this year on 1650, which would place it just in front of last year’s total of 1602.

This year, Citroen importer Ateco Automotive has been hampered by ongoing supply constraints, the discontinuation of the previous C3 and the run-out of the current C4, which will be replaced late next year.

It also remains without a presence in the booming SUV market segments in Australia, and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.

A climb to 3000 sales in 2011 would be the first time since 2007 that Citroen has reached such a mark. It managed 3800 in 2007, with almost half of these from the all-important C4, but the brand fell 29 per cent the following year to 2700 units.

Year to date, the C4 has accounted for less than 450 new registrations for Citroen and is likely to struggle until the redesigned version – which made its world motor show debut in Paris in September – reaches Australia around November next year.

Other models assisting the cause in 2011 will be mildly facelifted versions of the C4 Picasso mini-MPV and the mid-size C5, while Citroen will also stage the global launch of the all-new DS4 next year ahead of its Australian introduction around December.

A new-generation C5 and its all-new DS5 derivative are expected to arrive in 2012.

Mr Williams said that a DS3 convertible was also on the cards, replacing the C3 Pluriel which is no longer on sale in Australia.

Questioned about Citroen’s persistence with four-speed automatics and five-speed manuals in the Volkswagen world of six-speed manuals and seven-speed DSG gearboxes, Mr Williams said that in one of his conversations with PSA Peugeot Citroen CEO Philippe Varin – “not that we talk every week” – Mr Varin had expressed surprise about the old-fashioned transmission technology.

Mr Varin has apparently ordered a major rethink across the Peugeot and Citroen brands on this issue.

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