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Peugeot, Citroen models dropped

Short stay: After a little more than 18 months on the local market, Peugeot’s local distributor Sime Darby has discontinued the slow-selling 5008 people-mover.

Sime Darby ‘rationalises’ line-up, dumping Citroen C4 Aircross and Peugeot 5008

Citroen logo22 Jan 2015

SIME Darby Motor Group Australia has dumped the slow-selling Citroen C4 Aircross SUV and Peugeot 5008 people-mover from its product portfolio as a part of a model rationalisation program that will see more fat cut from both line-ups this year.

The axe has fallen on the two models after lower than expected take-up, with the C4 Aircross recording just 50 sales last year, down 62.4 per cent from the 133 that were sold in 2013.

Since its launch in July 2012, just 254 examples of the Aircross have found homes in Australia, making it the worst performer in the burgeoning small SUV segment for the past two years.

The crossover, and its Peugeot 4008 twin, are based on the high-selling Mitsubishi ASX, but carry individual front and rear styling to represent their respective brands’ design themes.

Peugeot Automobiles Australia and Citroen Australia general manager John Startari told GoAuto that the decision to axe the C4 Aircross was made in the second half of last year, adding that there are a “small number” of vehicles in dealer stock left over.

Mr Startari said the importer is keen to realign the Citroen brand with its forthcoming product that includes the five-seat C4 Picasso next month and the C4 Cactus crossover later in the year, adding that they are more representative of the future direction of the French marque than the C4 Aircross.

“I think if you look at where we want to take that brand, that was the car that didn’t fit with that strategy,” he said.

While the C4 Aircross has not fared well, sales of the Peugeot 4008 were up by 27.7 per cent in 2014, with 1240 units shifted compared with 971 in 2013, making it Peugeot’s top seller last year.

Mr Startari said that the Mitsubishi-based crossover was a more appropriate fit with Peugeot rather than Citroen brand in Australia, but predicted that it will soon be usurped as the most popular Peugeot model.

“It fits more in the Peugeot demographic. And it’s a car that has done very well and served us very well. We expect the 308 to be our largest seller going forward as we introduce the 1.6 and GT range. That will be the focus.”

The Peugeot 5008, meanwhile, has struggled for attention in the increasingly busy people-mover segment since it lobbed in May 2013, shifting just 90 units this year – down 19 per cent from last year’s 111 – to be outsold by the likes of the Proton Exora.

Mr Startari said the 5008 had to go as part of the trimmed down portfolio, but added that the sales success of the new-generation Citroen C4 Grand Picasso did not have an impact on the fate of the Peugeot MPV.

“The business has gone through a reorganisation. We are making changes in staffing, product rationalisation. It’s part of that improvement process and gives us a chance to focus on core models and build volume and take it from there.

“You have got to look at the two businesses (Peugeot and Citroen) separately and we have different management at a sales and marketing level. On the other hand, we need to make sure we are strategising the back office and we gain every efficiency about having the two brands in one stable, so it’s a fine balance.”

Mr Startari said that the C4 Aircross and the Peugeot 5008 were the only passenger models to be dropped “at this stage”, but added that the number of variants of each model was being scrutinised, particularly with Citroen.

“Reducing the number of variants is imperative. Citroen can’t be all things to all people so we have got to stick to our core.” One of Citroen’s core models, the C4, has also been struggling, with the ageing hatch recording just 125 sales in 2014, a sharp 41.6 decline over the 2013 haul of 214 units, making it one of the slowest sellers in the sub-$40,000 small segment.

A facelifted C4 was revealed in December, and while Sime Darby is negotiating with the French parent company for a local introduction, Mr Startari said the C4 is safe, for now.

“Product is of those things that you need to be on top of constantly. Decisions we make today won’t be realised for 12 to 18 months. At this stage C4 is part of our plans.”

Mr Startari said Sime Darby would need to look at the future of C4 in the Citroen line-up, given the slew of new and exciting product coming in the form of the C4 Picasso and Cactus, which could potentially put more pressure on the hatch range.

“The C4 was our highest seller post-GFC, so there is quite a customer base there. It is a car we need to study and establish where it fits in the range because we do have a price ladder, from C3 right up to the C5. We don’t want to be competing against ourselves.

“On the flipside we have also got to keep those people within our stable so if we have a product that can take that that’s not going to compromise our business, obviously we will look at it at that stage. As its stands right now, C4 is in the range and will remain so until further notice.”

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