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Fleet access drives PSA van possibilities for Oz

French tourist: The Peugeot Traveller could end up in Australia dealerships in the coming years.

Peugeot and Citroen vans being assessed in the wake of Renault van success

22 Feb 2016

SPURRED on by the sales success of rival Renault’s van range, Peugeot Citroen importers Sime Darby Motor Group is investigating the viability of one or both of the recently announced PSA line of light-commercial vehicles in Australia.

Speaking to GoAuto at the release of the 308 GTi in Tasmania last week, Sime Darby Motor Group national marketing manager Dimitri Andreatidis revealed that the time is right to consider expanding its light-commercial vehicle offerings in Australia.

“As part of a study, in terms of growing our fleet market share, the vans would be an option for us to consider,” he said. We’re reviewing it currently… and from there we would then undertake the conversation with PSA (in France) outlining what we would require for the Australian market.

“In particular we are looking at the success that our competitors have had, like Renault for example, and then determining whether or not it is an opportunity we also need to pursue.

Mr Andreatidis said the vans would have t make financial sense and not detract from other part of the business or model lines.

“As part of the study, we wanted to see what the interest from journalists, the market, and the industry, would be, and what that would generate. And from there we would factor those back into our study.

“But like everything in life, there is an opportunity cost involved, and diverting attention and resources to the LCV market if we were to pursue it means the focus may be shifted from another part of the business.

“So while it is definitely an opportunity that warrants our attention, right now it is purely a study to see if we can grow our market share.”

Mr Andreatidis added that the vans are a good way to boost Peugeot and Citroen’s fleet presence in Australia, which has been flagging behind rivals in recent years, particularly Renault’s.

Last year, Renault sold 1070 units of its revamped Trafic van (only 276 vehicles shy of the Transporter, and despite being hobbled by a lack of an automatic transmission option), while the older and larger Master has enjoyed a renaissance with 1510 registrations, representing a 34 per cent increase over its 2014 figure.

In contrast over the same period, Citroen (the sole LCV provider after Peugeot Automobiles Australia discontinued the Partner and Expert in early 2015) sold just 298 examples of its Berlingo compact van.

While this made the latter the brand’s best-selling individual model, it was roundly outsold by the Volkswagen Caddy (1755 units), Renault Kangoo (1177), and Suzuki APV (577).

Shared with Toyota in Europe, but using the scalable EMP2 lightweight architecture that underpins the latest Peugeot 308 and Citroen Picasso, the new big PSA vans in question – the Peugeot Traveller and Citroen Spacetourer – have been developed in both commercial vehicle and people-mover configurations to take on the Volkswagen Transporter and Caravelle series.

It is also understood that they share many components with the upcoming Peugeot 6008 large SUV, which is already on SDMG’s wishlist for Australia for a 2018 launch.

Whether the vans would arrive wearing the Peugeot lion or Citroen chevron badges has also yet to be determined.

“We need to look at it holistically – what is it that we can do with the vans for both Citroen and Peugeot?” Mr Andreatidis explained. “So how can we optimise our product line-up and model mix, using one or both of the brands – if we were to go down that path?Mr Andreatidis said that a decision on the vans will only be made after a new general manager has been appointed, following John Startari’s exit after several years at the helm of both brands late last year.

“We are waiting for our new general manager to be appointed, and then that person will determine where we go,” he said.

“Things have changed, and in terms of looking at the opportunities that the LCV category can offer us, we need to keep all our options open. So after the initial study, those facts would be presented to the general manager, and then it would be determined whether this is something that we would pursue.”

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