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DS ‘on the radar’ for Australia

Cross to bear: The split between DS and Citroen is widening, with the DS4 to be produced in two unique variants by the PSA Peugeot Citroen group.

Luxury spin-off of Citroen to expand in Australia as a standalone brand

Citroen logo5 Oct 2015

By TIM ROBSON in FRANKFURT

THE chief executive officer of Peugeot Citroen’s luxury DS brand says that Australia figures in its plans, as it ramps up for a global product offensive in 2017.

Yves Bonnefont told GoAuto that it was important for DS to forge its own path within the PSA group, and that establishing a genuine French luxury brand was essential.

“It is very important for us to find our own way of doing high end cars,” he said at this year's Frankfurt motor show. “The core mission of the brand is to embed the luxury know-how of France into the car industry, and to make sure we have a French brand that is high end, that is luxury in the car industry.”

Currently, the brand is still closely linked with Citroen, with its three-model local line-up based closely on its sister brand’s cars. Mr Bonnefont said that the lines between the two are widening day by day, and that having disparate customer groups will help this process.

“It is a different customer group,” he explained. “Because we serve a different group of customers to Citroen, we will break away from Citroen more and more. We want to make DS a strong brand with its own territories.

“The product cycles of Citroen and DS are now fully disconnected,” he added.

“The group has three brands, and we all have our own product plans. For DS, we have defined a product plan of six cars, which we will roll out from 2017, where we will roll out five cars in (the first) three years.”

Mr Bonnefont believes it takes two product cycles to create a brand, or about fifteen years.

 center imageLeft: DS CEO Yves Bonnefont

“What is extremely important is that each and every car we release in the market can spell out loud and clear with very specific attributes that can be communicated to the market, so the customers will start to understand what the brand stands for by looking at our product,” he said.

He acknowledged that an established market such as Australia will be a tougher conquest than a newer one, like China, where DS has opened 90 of the 100 DS Stores it has launched worldwide in the past 12 months.

“It’s always a challenge to introduce a brand into market,” he agreed. “The automotive industry is particularly competitive, and there are lot of brands that are well established, and customers have their habits. We’ve established Europe first, and we’ve spent of lot of energy in China over the last 12 months. Were now starting to look at other regions, and Australia is a market of interest for us now.

“We have to set our priorities and make sure that when we enter a market we make it successful. We don’t want to spread our resources too thin around the world.”

Peugeot-Citroen importer Sime Darby has sold 155 DSs in Australia this year, with the DS3 contributing 65 sales, and the DS4 and DS5 adding 45 apiece.

“It’s important we get to Australia with products that the customer likes,” he said. “We sell a few DSs in Australia, a limited number. We believe the (new DS4-based) Crossback will be of interest for Australian customers, and as we get into our future model plans, we will come with larger cars, which we I think will fit very well in the Australian market.

“Hopefully at one point we will have a DS Store in Australia, as well.”

The new DS4 is yet to be confirmed for Australia, but the local arm has expressed its interest in securing the Crossback variant to complement the DS4 hatch currently sold here.

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