Peu­geot makes big call

The Advertiser - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE CONFIDENTIAL -

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.

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