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Peugeot strives for sustainable sales growth

Next up: Peugeot's facelifted 508 mid-sizer arrives next month ahead of the refreshed 208 hatch later this year.

New models, new team to spur measured volume rises for Peugeot in 2015

Peugeot logo27 Feb 2015

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

PEUGEOT AUSTRALIA is aiming to boost sales gradually and sustainably over the next year on the back of a renewed team, wider grade choices for its 308 small car, and a refreshed model line-up.

The result, according to Peugeot Australia general manager John Startari is for a gradual rise in sales, up from the 4400 annual unit mark it has been stuck at for the last two years.

While refusing to divulge volume targets, one company spokesman suggested that a 5000 sales this year might be an achievable number should launch timings and supply expectations go to plan.

“Obviously we’d like to grow this year, but that’s under a sustainable model, so we’re not thinking a number per se, but we will grow this year based on our current forecasts,” Mr Startari told GoAuto at the 308 GT and Allure 1.6 THP in Albury.

“If you look at the growth in the last quarter of last year and into January this year, that is part of the transition we are going through, changes in personnel, restructuring our business and our focus in the marketing.

“And with new product coming through, there will obviously be growth, but we are sewing the seeds of the future. We are not going to splash cash, and take a business model that loses money in the first two or three years in the hope that we will recover in years four to five. It is a sustainable model that is paid for through free cash flow.”

Peugeot Australia national marketing manager Dimitri Andreatidis is confident the broader 308 range will translate into significantly higher sales than the T9 has managed since its October launch, with the new 1.6 THP four-cylinder turbo-petrol variants addressing residual fears from more traditional brand customers about the effectiveness of the 96kW e-THP 1.2-litre turbo three-cylinder versions.

“Many customers have waited for the 1.6-litre THP engine to arrive in the Allure and Allure Premium, while others have shown some resistance towards the three-cylinder turbo, even though everybody who has driven and experienced it says it’s a terrific little engine,” he told GoAuto.

“So I think we will have to wait and see how buyers react to the Allure and Allure Premium as well as the GT before we can safely make a call on what will be the best-selling 308. But the Allure 110kW 1.6 THP will certainly be one of the key volume sellers for sure for us.” The facelifted 508 and 3008 from next month will drive more traffic into Peugeot dealerships with upgraded drivetrains and improved styling inside and out.

Meanwhile, the new three-cylinder turbo-equipped 208 should at last give the popular Volkswagen Polo and Mazda2 a run for their money in the light-car segment when it surfaces in October – something that the current version has failed to do with just 857 sales last year and less than 1000 during its first full year of availability in 2013.

Aiding the 208 along will be the hero 208 GTi 30th Anniversary edition release in a few weeks – featuring flamboyant paintwork options, a limited slip differential, and a host of other minor tweaks to help celebrate the 30 years since the iconic 205 GTi first surfaced in Europe.

By about this time next year, the same new-generation EB turbo three-cylinder engine choices are also expected to invigorate the fortunes of the facelifted 2008 crossover.

The existing version managed to find just 488 customers last year, against 5979 sales for the similarly sized Holden Trax, while the larger Mitsubishi ASX-based 4008 in a similar league contributed a further 1240 customers for the French marque.

The extent of the 2008 makeover is still a secret, as the vehicle has yet to be revealed internationally. However, Peugeot Australia will discover more about this and other upcoming models from PSA Peugeot Citroen when the local product planning team convenes in Paris in the middle of the year.

“Our staff will be attending a product conference in May, and we expect to be updated on (PSA chairman) Carlos Tavares’ new product strategy,” Mr Startari said. “And then we can assess the impact on this market on the back of that.”

Peugeot Australia has a lot of customers to recover if it is to return to the halcyon days of a decade ago, with last year’s haul of 4394 units being the lowest since 2001’s 3452 result.

In 2006/7 the 8000 mark was breached, while 7000-plus sales were exceeded for the three years prior.

What's coming for Peugeot:
308 GT, Allire 1.6 THPNow
508, 3008 faceliftsMarch
208 GTi 30th AnniversaryMarch
208 faceliftOctober
2008 faceliftLate Q4/early 2016

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