Peugeot makes big call
THE car world is full of comeback plans and promises. This week it’s Peugeot’s turn.
As the French parent company PSA Group (also maker of Citroen) prepares for its home grand final, the Paris motor show, Peugeot is trying to pump up its prospects of becoming more than just a 0.5 per cent player in Australia’s showrooms.
There is plenty of impressive history to draw from, including success in the round-Australia trials in the 1950s and the superfun 205 GTI of the 1980s, but that’s not nearly enough when you’re going up against VW, Mazda and the Koreans on the import battlefield.
The latest talk is about a new 308 (pictured) that proves Peugeot can still build cars that look good and drive great.
We can also look forward to a line-up where Citroen’s C line is PSA’s starter brand, with Peugeot planted in the middle ground, and the style-driven DS line cars doing a Lexus-style job at the top end.
Meanwhile, brand bosses are making some giant calls and even attacking Hyundai and Kia for dumping — basically selling cars for less than they cost to make — in Australia.
“We have to focus to grow. But not dumping on markets, like some companies. It must be sustainable growth,” says Oceania area manager David Descottes. “We want to be beating Volkswagen in 20 years. And DS should be ahead of Audi in 20 years.”
That’s an even bigger prediction than Holden saying it will be back at No. 1 by the end of the decade.
Most importantly, there is denial about the significance of price because Peugeot sees itself as a premium player that can charge extra for its cars.
It plainly didn’t watch the way Opel imploded here with a similar approach although it admits it can learn about the right cars for Australia from the failure of the VW Up.
Peugeot has also just had a welcome cash injection from the French government and the Dong Feng company in China, it has an aggressive new boss called Carlos Tavares from Renault, and it’s reorganising its overseas operations to take a sharper approach.