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Peugeot weighs up van future for Oz

Name brand: The Citroen Berlingo is a well-known name in the Australian market, albeit a slow seller.

Sime Darby considering streamlining commercial vehicle line-up in Citroen’s favour

Citroen logo11 Oct 2013

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

CITROEN may become the sole compact van brand within Sime Darby’s commercial vehicle line-up, as the company determines which of the two PSA Peugeot/Citroen nameplates is better equipped to grow the business in the Australian market.

While no decision has yet been made, it appears that the traditionally stronger-selling and longer established Berlingo by Citroen might take over from its Peugeot Partner twin in the sub-2.5 tonne van market.

The move will allow Sime Darby to refocus its resources in order to reel in the runaway best-selling Volkswagen Caddy range, which currently holds a full two-thirds of segment share at 65.5 per cent. That translates to about 1600 out of 2500 sales so far to the end of September.

The second-placed Suzuki APV is at 15 per cent, the Renault Kangoo is next with nearly half of that at 8.6 per cent, while the PSA twins are only at around five per cent apiece year-to-date.

But the decision to go with Berlingo only has not yet been set in stone, since in the 2.5t to 3.5t van market – which is nearly five times larger in volume and is better known as the Toyota HiAce class – the Peugeot Expert has become PSA’s sole player (albeit a minor one at just 0.3 per cent share to the end of September this year), stepping in for the recently discontinued Citroen Dispatch.

“At this stage we need to determine which brand is essentially taking up the commercial range,” says Sime Darby Distribution general manager, John Startari.

“The two cars from both brands share a lot of componentry and even look very similar, so it’s a matter of deciding which nameplate is going to better serve, and which has the better infrastructure and dealer network capabilities.

“Berlingo is the stronger name in the Australian marketplace, but that has yet to be determined. And it will be done in conjunction with our dealer networks.

“There are various scenarios, and one of them is to maybe drop one of those nameplates.”

Launched by the previous importers Ateco Automotive, the Berlingo has been available in Australia since 1999, while the Partner and Export only appeared on the local scene in 2008.

Meanwhile, Mr Startari said that there are no plans to introduce the light-car based Peugeot Bipper and Citroen Nemo vans in Australia.

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