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Switch to China likely for local DS products

French connection: While DS cars will initially come from Paris, it’s likely that production for the Australian market, including the DS5, will switch to PSA’s new plant in Shenzhen.

Large DS Automobiles plant in China may service Australian market from 2018

3 Nov 2015

PSA Peugeot Citroen’s DS brand is espousing the return of the French luxury car, but expectations are high that production will switch from the Poissy plant to the company’s purpose-built facility in China for the Australian market.

Launched last month as part of the arrival of the updated the DS5, the upmarket offshoot of Citroen targeted the Chinese market first, establishing a stand-alone dealer network and setting up a joint partnership with Chang’an to build the DS in Shenzhen.

Currently, the plant builds the DS5 in a standard and a long-wheelbase version, along with the new 6WR SUV, the third DS-specific model.

The 6WR is currently only sold in China it is expected to expand into other markets before 2020.

There are currently more than 84 self-styled DS Stores in China, while 26,000 DSs were sold there in 2014. The Australian operation hopes to have six models for sale by 2020, with all 22 local Citroen dealers required to have a stand-alone DS presence in their showrooms.

DS Automobiles general manager John Startari told GoAuto that globalisation meant that all options needed to be considered, suggesting that it’s not essential that DSs be built in France.

“I really believe that we live in a globalised world, and in essence, most people are aware that their cars aren't built in the ‘mother country’,” he said.

“There are a lot of European brands now that are built around the world. That's just a product of globalisation. I don't think you can survive long-term if you want to stick to your roots. But I think it's (the French connection) a point of difference and one we should leverage.”

When asked if the Australian operation could potentially source its DSs from China, Mr Startari replied: “never say never.”

Mr Startari also drew on the brand’s debut in China as an example of how the Citroen and DS brands can successfully split.

“When the decision was made to separate, obviously, it’s a big call, and it you look at what happened in China, it’s been a huge success story,” he said.

“They've started with a clean slate. So it shows where we need to be. The fact that we have been in this market for some time with the two brands together means that we need a different strategy to China and in Europe obviously, the critical mass is there, so separation can happen a lot quicker (overseas).”

All Australian dealers are required to make room for a DS presence within their showrooms, according to Mr Startari.

“They'll need to develop that concept, to retain the DS vehicles,” he said.

“They'll be asked to allocate space towards the DS.

“We've got to be realistic about it, and as I say, we're transitioning to that 2018-2020 strategy, so we certainly don’t want to put people (dealers) under financial duress in this stage. We're working with them.”

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