News

Citroen here to stay, despite poor sales

The marque was down 23.8 per cent last year

French automotive giant PSA has no intention of withdrawing Citroen from Australia, despite the marque struggling to gain traction in our hotly-contested market.

Last year, Citroen sold just 735 cars in Australia, a 23.8 per cent drop over the previous year. Its best-selling vehicle locally was the Berlingo light van, which accounted for 266 units

But despite the downturn – and despite struggling to gain traction in this country – Emmanuel Delay, PSA’s executive vice president, India & Pacific, and a member of the executive committee of the PSA group, reaffirmed the brand’s commitment to Australia.

“Yes of course. Yes, yes,” Delay replied when asked by CarAdvice if Citroen would remain in Australia.

“We’ve done a lot of work on rebuilding the brand story in the last few years.”

Delay acknowledged the niche French brand was unlikely to ever match its Peugeot stablemate for sales locally. However, he remained confident Citroen could forge its own place in the local motoring landscape. He cited the relative ease of Australia’s homologation requirements in ensuring Citroen could – and would – remain a local product.

“I think in general, the good news is that Australia not a market that requires very difficult specifications for us to meet,” he said.

“So normally, if we have let’s say, if we look at our global line-up, we cannot say ‘Oh well, we’re going to have to make a very hard choice and only sell one or two models because it’s so expensive to homologate the models to bring them to Australia. That’s not the case. So we can imagine that it will not be harder for us.”

While official confirmation has not been made, Delay expected both the new C3 Aircross and C5 Aircross SUVs to form part of Citroen’s line-up in Australia in 2018.

“The line-up will be chosen based on the merit of each model and what it brings to the portfolio of models for Australia,” he said. “I think the future line-up for Citroen is reasonable. It’s not as profuse as for Peugeot but it’s still enough.”

With Peugeot carrying the bulk of PSA’s sales in Australia, Delay added a rethink on Citroen’s local strategy under newly-appointed distributor Inchcape was underway.

“The business model of the Citroen brand in Australia is now under review with Inchcape,” he revealed. “What I mean by that is that yes, we realise that the overall volume and the car park is a fraction of Peugeot. And historically we had separate sites, for example, to sell Citroen and Peugeot.

"Whereas now I think we are taking the view that whenever we can and whenever it makes sense if we can have a site that sells both it will be form an economy point of view. I think that’s a turn that we are taking.

“But exactly how we sell Citroen in future is still being reviewed between us and Inchcape.”

However, local fans of Citroen’s sub-brand DS, will have to wait for now, with Delay confirming the current deal with Inchcape does not include DS.

“So, the way we organised the agreement with Inchcape, we said ‘let’s not force DS into the agreement until we have a common plan to bring DS back to Australia<” he said. “So that is going to be studied, It’s part of the homework of 2018 to study whether – and how – we bring DS back to Australia.

“Because we wanted to, let’s say, give freedom and not impose upon Inchcape to have DS as part of the deal. But of course if we come up with a nice business model that works for both sides, then we’ll definitely go ahead with it.”