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PSA stands by struggling Citroen brand

Lone figure: Citroen’s current Berlingo (left) stands alone as the sole LCV in the French brand’s stable, but the numbers are being crunched on creating a new division with other vans including the Dispatch and Relay.

New vans and possibly a ute may help Citroen as PSA/Inchcape works on brand plan

Citroen logo6 Feb 2018

By TERRY MARTIN

PSA and its Australian distributor Inchcape are united in their commitment to the Citroen brand and are looking to light-commercial vehicles – new vans and possibly its first-ever pick-up – to boost the low-volume French brand as it fights to remain relevant in the marketplace.

Citroen’s annual sales have tumbled from almost 4000 units in 2007 to just 735 last year as buyers shun its dwindling range of passenger cars and as its top-selling model, the Berlingo light-commercial compact van, reaches the end of its current lifecycle.

GoAuto has learnt that Inchcape is now studying a new plan to reinvigorate the brand by playing to one of its main strengths – light-commercials – and that a new-generation Berlingo due to be revealed in Europe later this year looks set to be joined in Australia by the larger Dispatch and Relay vans and sold through a newly developed LCV retail presence along the same lines as Renault’s Pro+ dealerships.

The long-discussed business cases for the two larger vans are progressing and, further afield, there is now some chance that an all-new one-tonne utility being developed by PSA in partnership with Changan Automobile in China – to be launched globally by 2020 – could also be sold here.

In an interview with GoAuto at the launch of the new Peugeot 5008 SUV in NSW last week, PSA Group executive vice-president and head of the India-Pacific region, Emmanuel Delay, said it was still too early to confirm whether the pick-up would be built in right-hand drive, but that the French car-maker was well aware of the strength of the pick-up market here.

“That could be, but I think it’s at a very early stage, so I cannot promise anything right now – we are still in the early stages,” he said.

“It could be (sold here). Definitely, we know that Australia loves pick-ups, so if we have a product that is suited to the market, then we will definitely look at it.”

Asked about the ongoing viability of the Citroen brand as PSA in Europe adds Opel to its stable, Mr Delay said he understood that Citroen sales were only “a fraction of the Peugeot volume”.

“The question is then: do you position or do you sell the brand in a different way?” he said.

“That question of how do we grow Citroen, or how do we make Citroen a success, both from a market point of view but also from, let’s say, an economic point of view for us and our importer and our network, that’s an open question that Inchcape is looking at.

“But we definitely have no intention of letting go of Citroen in Australia. The question is: is there an alternative business model that we need to test, or not.”

An overhaul of the dealer network has seen all remaining outlets now become representatives of both brands, and Citroen will bolster its passenger car range this year with the return of the C3 in third-generation guise early this year, the updated C4 Cactus in June and all-new C3 Aircross crossover due around mid-year.

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