The global move to separate French premium brand DS from its Citroen roots won’t be taken up in Australia for quite some time, it seems.
The DS brand was officially peeled away from Citroen at the 2015 Geneva motor show almost exactly a year ago, and while the newly-branded DS 5 luxury hatch (ie: not the Citroen DS5) has been launched here, it’s still being sold through Citroen dealers.
With an updated DS3 due this year, those numbers should rise somewhat. But not nearly enough to justify a multi-million dollar investment from the distributor and its dealers to set-up freestanding DS showrooms.
Instead, DS parlours, for want of a better term, could be adopted at Citroen showrooms, in a similar way to how the two brands separate themselves at international motor shows. The DS stand is dark, moody, beautifully detailed and with just one or two million too many shiny surfaces, while the Citroen stand is bright, airy and youthful.
The newly-appointed Australian general manager for Citroen, DS and Peugeot, Kai Bruesewitz, said he needs to assess where DS sits in Australia.
The former chief of Mini Australia is used to dealing with a niche brand, and over his 16 years at BMW and Mini – and three at Mini Australia – so he knows he needs to cover his bases before making any moves.
“I guess I have to look into that in more detail,” he said of the move to shake things up between Citroen and DS.
“It must make sense. We shouldn’t split it just for the sake of splitting. The volume for Citroen is relatively low, and if you then want to split up another brand for that low volume as a basis, I don’t think it’s viable in the short term.
“We have to look carefully into this because we want to have, obviously, a sustainable and profitable dealer network,” he said. “And there we have to find a way how to integrate the DS into existing showrooms.
“Differentiated and separated, but with minor cost implications. And there we have to sit down to see, evaluate: does every dealer need to have the DS franchise? Or is it focused in certain areas. That’s what I would be thinking,” he posited.
When it comes to products, DS is clearly lacking an SUV in its ranks.
The DS 4 and DS 4 Crossback models are crossover-like – but even the existing model didn't have much cut-through with buyers.
Bruesewitz suggested that he thinks the DS range isn’t complete yet – in Australia, or elsewhere.
“I guess it probably would need four models,” he said. “Not necessarily more. We want to keep the complexity of all three brands also manageable.
“We don’t get unlimited resources, the workforce here has to take care of all three brands. And I would say roughly four models in order to cover the spectrum and the demand, but I don't have enough knowledge of what’s coming to tell you which models I would see,” he said.
CarAdvice believes that an all-new SUV – not the DS 6WR model (pictured above) that is sold exclusively in China, but a more world-focused model – is part of the plans, and it could be here before the end of the decade.
Bruesewitz said that an SUV is a must for the brand if it wants to grow.
“Absolutely. You need an SUV, and as much as I read, I think there is something in the planning,” he said.