The boss of French manufacturer, Citroen, admits the company had lost its way in the past trying to produce mainstream cars that did little in differentiating themselves in the heavily competitive market but is now in a process of rebuilding.
Talking to the Australian media at the Paris motor show this week, global CEO of Citroen, Linda Jackson, said that some previous models highlighted the company’s desire to be the same as everyone else (primarily taking on Volkswagen), but the company has now realised that being different is part of Citroen’s core DNA and its recipe to success.
“Let’s be honest, we lost our way,” Jackson said.
“When we tried to be like everyone else, it was our least successful [period]. When we try to be different like we are trying to be do with the brand right now, we will be successful and we are being successful because we have the results that are giving us that.”
Above: Citroen C4 Cactus
With the Peugeot Citroen group now holding on to five brands, including Peugeot, Citroen, DS, Vauxhall and Opel, the successful task of differentiating these car manufacturers remains to be seen, but Jackson believes that Citroen is the bravest of them all.
“Of the five brands that we got, it’s the boldest of them. No body, no other brand could be producing C5 Aircross (top) with dashes of red and colours, different interiors from flashy red to very sober, I think Citroen to me has always had a boldness, a creativity or audacity and it has always had one in its history, you can think back to Andre Citroen, who advertised Citroen on the Eiffel Tower."
“For me, Citroen is about being bold, having a unique design and standing out. I think for Citroen, its all about how you reflect it and how you express it, it’s about being modern, being fresh and being disruptive.”
As for whether Citroen has potentially lost some of that ‘audacity’ with the separation of the DS brand from the core line-up, Jackson says it would not have been possible to continue with Citroen and DS as part of the same offering, given the two brands completely differing objectives.
Above: Citroen C3
“If you think back to when you had the two together, it was a bit schizophrenic. How can you be a mainstream brand at the same time you want to be a premium brand, your message was confused.
Citroen now has that territory that is right in front of us [to be a wholly mainstream brand], you can say there are lots of people there, but that is for us to differentiate, gives us the freedom to express.”
The company will relaunch its model line-up in Australia from 2019 with the arrival of the Citroen C3 Aircross by around March or April (previously slated for a late-2018 launch) followed by the larger Citroen C5 Aircross in the second half of next year.
Stay tuned to CarAdvice for all the latest.