The global head of Citroen says she would like the iconic French brand to become part of the ever-growing mid-size SUV segment, while also acknowledging the PSA Peugeot Citroen group has to look into the world of pick-ups.
Speaking to CarAdvice in France at a European Citroen C4 Cactus drive event, Citroen CEO Linda Jackson said a compact B- or C-segment SUV, “is clearly something that we would like in the line-up for Citroen.”
“The segment is still expanding exponentially, so there is still plenty of room for us to be able to have a very good part in it,” Jackson said.
“That’s one of the reasons that we’ve done the concept Aircross, clearly to see how we could develop that. So clearly that’s something that we would like in our line-up.”
In her role as CEO since June 2014, the UK native said product cycles will be a key contributor when it comes to time to market of any new SUV.
“I’ve not quoted any times yet,” she said before laughing and saying, “I clearly would like one today.”
Officially unveiled at this year’s Shanghai auto show – and headlined by rugged styling, pillarless suicide doors and a plug-in hybrid drivetrain – the Citroen Aircross concept takes clear inspiration from the soon-to-launch-locally C4 Cactus sub-compact SUV.
Asked whether newer technologies such as PSA’s Hybrid Air system (co-developed with Bosch) or plug-in hybrids or plug-in EVs will be seen in upcoming production vehicles, such as a new SUV, Jackson said, “It’s at the stage now that in order to move it into industrialisation, we would need a partner.”
“We haven’t got a partner, so it’s on the shelf.”
Giving weight to early 2015 reports that PSA’s Hybrid Air program is ‘withering’, the boss of the French car maker said a decision has been made to make plug-in hybrid electric technology the strategy.
“For us that’s really where we’re moving, alongside electric vehicles, alongside petrol and diesel.”
Further, Jackson hinted that any new product would also likely feature a completely new, more efficient and more cost effective suspension system, which is already undergoing testing.
With the NP300 Nissan Navara-based Renault Alaskan ute still front of mind following its appearance at last week’s 2015 Frankfurt motor show, Jackson also admitted that the PSA Peugeot Citroen group has to look into the pick-up segment.
“In terms of the pick-up, I think the pick-up is not a Citroen issue,” Jackson said.
“It’s about where is there an opportunity, and that’s a [PSA] group decision. That isn’t obviously taken in any way, it’s about looking at if there’s a volume or profit opportunity there.”
Planning to reduce its current 14-‘silhouette’ range to seven (not including commercial vehicles and joint ventures such as the Toyota Aygo/C1 and Mitsubishi ASX/C4 Aircross), Citroen is targeting a future non-Europe sales figure of 50 per cent.
Showing the importance of the brand’s number one market, China, Jackson revealed that in 2008, non-Europe sales accounted for 20 per cent of total global sales and 2015 now sees that figure at 40 per cent, with 25 per cent of that being attributed to China.