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Made-to-order Citroens on the way

Tailor-made: Customers will soon be able to design their Citroen DS from scratch with the introduction of a new dealer strategy.

Citroen introduces bespoke DS concept as Aussie dealer expansion continues

Citroen logo28 Mar 2013

By TIM NICHOLSON

CITROEN will offer tailor-made cars via its upmarket DS range in a bid to differentiate itself in Australia’s crowded new car market.

The DS bespoke concept will allow buyers to pick and choose from an extensive options list and build their car from scratch, via a new app-based logistics ordering system.

Creating your ideal car will mean a wait list, with Citroen Automobiles Australia general manager John Startari confirming that the time between ordering the vehicle and receiving it will vary between two weeks and three months.

“Some people will order a car that is a generic specification,” he said. “We will be able to supply that a lot quicker than someone that wants an out-and-out radical roof colour or different body colour, especially with the DS3.

“We believe the majority of those will be well under the three months and closer to the two week mark but we have got to provide the worst case scenario.”

Mr Startari said that Citroen’s local arm will manage the waiting list through an engagement strategy that will see customers updated on the progress of their vehicle via an in-house call centre.

“Long term we would like to have some online electronic communication that potentially could lead to customers seeing their car coming down the production line, being loaded at the boat, but that’s obviously down the track,” he said.

33 center imageFrom top: John Startari, Citroen DS4 and Citroen DS5.

Citroen’s dealer network will adapt to the new bespoke system from July 1, with showrooms adding a dedicated DS area where customers can review DS options.

“The way that will work is the C-Line range of vehicles will operate under a slightly modified traditional dealer system,” he said.

“However, the biggest amendment of the DS line is that dealers will hold demonstration vehicles only.”

Mr Startari said the new strategy was designed around customer satisfaction and giving the buyer as much power as possible.

“What we are looking for is to create a relaxed environment where the customer is in control. Our strategy is really about the customer, we are trying to give them as much flexibility as possible and capitalize on the huge range of options available from Citroen.

“In the past the product planning team has made the decision for the customers and there was a compromise. What we are trying to do is take that away and give full flexibility to the customer.” While acknowledging that the new strategy could pose problems, Mr Startari believes the size of the company in Australia will allow for a successful roll-out.

“Logistically it is very difficult to do and I can understand why people don’t attempt it but at the end of the day we think we can do something that’s different and the volumes are not out of control,” he said.

The change in dealer strategy coincides with the expansion of the dealer network in Australia.

At the time of the change in distributorship in February this year, there were 19 Citroen dealers across the country and that has grown to 23 in less than two months.

Mr Startari confirmed that Sime Darby hoped to increase the network to 37 dealers, consisting of 30 full sales and service dealerships and seven parts and service-only outlets in regional areas.

While Mr Startari did not mention timing for the dealer expansion, he did confirm that one of the new dealerships will be located in the Melbourne inner-city suburb of South Yarra, with a Footscray location also close to approval.

Dealer response to the new strategy has been positive, with Mr Startari saying that a number of existing dealers applauding the distributor for trying something different.

“In February we presented our new strategy and I was overwhelmingly surprised at how well it was received.”

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