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Simplified Citroens on the way

Bump and grind: Citroen’s new C4 Cactus offers user-friendly tech and aims to lower cost of ownership with impact-absorbing plastic “air bumps”.

New boss says Citroen is about more than just quirky design

28 Oct 2014

CITROEN must differentiate itself from its rivals not just through design, but also by offering a superior customer experience and useable technology, according to the company’s new boss.

The French brand’s chief executive officer Linda Jackson – who started the role in June this year – told GoAuto at the Paris motor show earlier this month that the company was focused on offering consumers a better overall package.

While the French car-maker has won praise for returning to more interesting and design-led fare with the C4 Picasso and Grand C4 Picasso, as well as the C4 Cactus crossover, Ms Jackson said it would take more than attention-grabbing design to win over buyers.

“I think you have to make cars that have a great design, that make you stand out, but I think it’s not just about the design of the cars, it is what you put into it,” she said.

“And the thing that we are trying to push with our new positioning is to have great design but have comfortable cars. Comfortable in the sense of great cars to sit in but also practical inside. They are easy to use, you feel relaxed inside you’ve got plenty of storage.”

Earlier this year, Citroen’s parent company PSA detailed its strategy to separate the DS line out as a standalone flagship brand, while Peugeot also moves more upmarket, making room for Citroen to act as the group’s entry brand.

Part of this strategy involves simplifying Citroen’s line-up by offering more fuel-efficient powertrains and fewer high-end comfort features to keep purchasing and running costs down.

 center image Left: Citroen CEO Linda Jackson.Ms Jackson said the simplification strategy extends to in-car technology, with Citroen’s latest models featuring more user-friendly tech.

“And having technology as I say that is useful because these days you can look at a car and it has so many gadgets and you probably don’t use 60 per cent of them – I know I don’t – and what we are trying to do is put into our cars technology that really counts to our customer.”

Ms Jackson said the company is more focused than ever on ensuring a positive customer experience, not just during purchase but the ongoing relationship between brand and buyer.

“The other part that we want to join with is that it’s a customer experience.

Buying a car, taking it to a dealer to have aftersales work done can be stressful at times and what we want to do is take the stress out of the situation and make it a relaxed, easy life which is what we all want to do.

“When we buy a phone we want the simplest thing but we want it to work.

“It is about design, but about other things as well that I think you have to differentiate yourself, now it’s about customer service and that customer experience.”

Citroen’s latest range has garnered the attention of critics and buyers alike, with the Grand C4 Picasso winning major motoring awards, while there is high demand for it and the smaller, five-seat C4 Picasso in Europe and other markets.

The C4 Cactus crossover has gained a lot of attention for its quirky design that includes plastic “air bumps” on the door panels and bumpers to help avoid scratches following low level impacts.

Ms Jackson said more mainstream models such as the regular C4 hatch were not being forgotten about, but admitted that the focus had shifted to its newer, quirkier models of late.

“It’s not a problem because we have a whole range from C1 up to C5 and clearly there is a lifecycle in every product and currently we are launching C4 Cactus and C1, but they all have a part to play in the range.”

Citroen’s local distributor Sime Darby Motors has confirmed that the C4 Cactus will arrive in Australian dealerships mid next year, while the C4 Picasso will arrive in the first quarter.

The seven-seat Grand C4 Picasso is currently the equal best-selling Citroen in Australia, tying with the Berlingo light-commercial van on 197 sales to the end of September.

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