MOTORING NEWS - Peugeot Citroën South Africa (PCSA)’s Managing Director has not only revealed more details on the company’s’ future plans, but also its provided hints of its incoming rival for the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-Max and Volkswagen Amarok.
In an interview with The Citizen last month following the brand’s re-launch and unveiling of the new 108 and 5008, Xavier Gobille cast fears about an internal conflict between Peugeot and its returning French sister brand aside, saying that both will cater for a specific audience in spite of sharing the same platform and powertrains.
“What is important to the customer [amongst others], is service, marketing, the brand and product – you have to make sure that there is a different value proposition. The range of Citroën models will be completely different to [those of] Peugeot,” Gobille said.
“This does not mean that it will be better for example, but what you will find is that a Peugeot customer won’t like a Citroën and a Citroën customer won’t like a Peugeot. In effect, [both brand’s] strategies will be different and in a dealership, you will find that both are marketed differently even if the dealership principle is the same or the service technics are”.
Describing South Africa as a key market for PCSA’s parent company, PSA, former Nissan South Africa Sales and Marketing Director Gobille said that while it commands a scant one percent share of the local market, the sales volume of around 500 000 vehicles a year and relative size compared to other markets on the continent, is too great not to be ignored.
“There is no way that a company like PSA, one of the biggest in Europe, cannot let go of a tangible market like South Africa. Even if you made some mistakes before, you want to be present with a fair share [of the market] and while our share is not what we want, we will try and improve on that,” he said.
Speaking of future models, Gobille remarked that while plans are afloat to bring the new 208 to South Africa, its success in Europe has resulted in the factory not being able to keep up with demand. He however affirmed that PCSA is looking at next year for possible introduction along with the updated 2008, though it remains to be seen which model will arrive first.
Denouncing PCSA offering any of its electric models soon due to the lack of incentives, infrastructure and long distances South Africans often travel, Gobille added that while Peugeot is keen on making the available 508, prevailing conditions and domination of the D-segment by BMW and Mercedes-Benz makes for unfavourable reading.
“The D-segment in South Africa is collapsing big time, it is the biggest loser in the market. You also have to factor-in that both Mercedes-Benz and BMW manufacture cars locally and [are therefore] priced very competitively,” Gobille continued.
“The question is, if I bring the 508 from Europe, can I compete with the C-Class and 3 Series, can I make a valuable business proposition for the customer? I won’t introduce a product if I have no chance of winning. At present, I am studying if I can be competitive, if I can make something different to the completion. If yes, I will go but not, I won’t go”.
He also cited the shift from D-segment sedans to similarly sized SUVs as another hillock for the 508, but added that a great deal of interest is being shown in introducing the Rifter and its Citroën Berlingo MPV sibling as rivals for the Volkswagen Caddy in the near future.
With Peugeot set to re-enter the lucrative pick-up segment, Gobille remained mostly mum on details surrounding the newcomer, but let slip that it won’t be based on Chinese partner Dongfeng’s Rich, itself a re-development of the D23 Nissan Hardbody/Navara sold in North Africa as the Peugeot Pick-up.
“It is still in development and I have seen, so exists. It won’t be based on the D23 and will instead be all-new. It will be launched in 2021 and I know the product will be amazing. It is on the way but it is a new generation [model] for Peugeot”.