Malaysian-owned Sime Darby has managed Peugeot’s distribution in Australia since 2001, in which time the French brand has more than tripled its market share, but still pales in comparison to Volkswagen, its key European rival.
Last year, the Paris-based manufacturer sold 5220 cars in Australia, compared with Volkswagen’s 44,740. Nonetheless, it was still well ahead of sister company Citroen (distributed by Ateco), which managed just 1415 sales.
The 25 per cent increase in Peugeot’s 2012 sales is expected to come from the new 4008, 208 and 508. The company’s new general manager, Bill Gillespie, expects Peugeot to maintain its current sales volume for the 308, 3008, RCZ and the soon to be discontinued 207 and 4007. An additional 900 sales will come from the just-released 4008 small SUV while the new 208 (which goes on sale in October) will add another 600 on top of the 207’s runout sales. Peugeot Australia predicts the first full year of 508 sales will see an additional 1160 units sold (up from 285 in 2011). Peugeot is also pushing to expand its fleet sales from six to 13 per cent for the year.
Perhaps the biggest addition to Peugeot Australia’s plans this year is its assured service plan, which will see the 508, 308, 3008, 4008 and the 208 come with fixed priced servicing. Peugeot guarantees the total cost of servicing for those vehicles (excluding consumables like brake pads, etc.) over a three-year/60,000km period will be no more than $990, resulting in an average cost of $330 per year for most drivers. Gillespie said the aim of the plan was to assure buyers that owning a European car doesn’t mean paying over-the-top servicing fees.
Peugeot Australia has also added an in-house call centre to deal with customer support. The move is designed to provide better service to new and existing Peugeot owners, with Gillespie pointing out that the French company can’t grow its market share if it can’t take care of its existing owners.
Peugeot's somewhat stagnant sales have been largely due to its minimal impact in the SUV segment, with the Mitsubishi Outlander-based 4007 failing to make a big dent both in Australia (460 sales in 2011) and internationally (except in Russia). This has resulted in companies like Volkswagen taking more and more global market share with their ever-expanding number of models.
The partnership with Mitsubishi, which produces the 4007 and the new 4008, was the quickest way for the French manufacturer to enter multiple SUV segments. It’s nonetheless a risky move, however; one which is likely to attract new buyers to the brand but potentially put off loyal Peugeot buyers that have long valued the company’s French soul.