Citroen aims to make its marque

Six-year war­ranty is the French brand’s line in the sand

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

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.

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