Citroen aims to make its marque
Six-year warranty is the French brand’s line in the sand
IT will take more than just a sixyear warranty to sell more Citroen vehicles in Australia.
That’s the blunt assessment from John Startari, who heads the French marque in Australia.
Perception is a product of past experiences and Startari knows he has to address the brand’s public profile as quirky transport.
He says new models are in the pipeline and the six-year warranty will reassure customers considering Citroen.
“When we took over the business in 2013 there wasn’t a lot of public goodwill towards the line-up,” Startari says.
“People would come into a showroom, be impressed with a car and then go home to be told, ‘You can’t buy a Citroen.’
“The warranty helps offset some of those doubts — you don’t put a six-year warranty on a vehicle with quality issues. It is about showing confidence in the product but it is the product itself that will build growth.
“People walk into dealerships because there’s a car they’re interested in. If the car is good enough, the warranty then helps close the deal — it is dependent on having the vehicles people want at a competitive price.”
Startari cites the Citroen C4 Picasso, pictured, and C4 Grand Picasso as examples of what to expect in the future.
“Both of these cars have been well-received by the public and press and they’re both equipped with more gear than any of their respective rivals,” he says of the duo.
“It’s not always about being the cheapest vehicle. We have to impress with our features, quality and service and support and we’re starting to do that.”
Citroen sold just 1307 cars last year. That’s slim pickings but 10 per cent up on 2013 and in line with Startari’s forecast 10 per cent a year improvement.
“It’s a slow process. You can’t change perception overnight, especially on emotive purchases like cars,” he says.
He is also upbeat about the potential for the DS range that will become a stand-alone brand but says it won’t be a quick transition.
“You need to have a portfolio of vehicles to build a brand. Right now we don’t have that — we need additional models before DS can stand by itself. They will come but it’s going to take time.”
Startari is adamant Citroen can evolve from niche to mainstream. “There’s absolutely no reason we can’t be selling 4000 cars a year in Australia.”
Citroen tallied 3800 sales locally in 2007.