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DS CEO wants upscale brand to have Audi-like impact
Bonnefont sees marque accounting for up to 15% of PSA's global sales
Luca Ciferri and Bruce Gain
Automotive News Europe
February 5, 2015

PSA/Peugeot-Citroen’s upscale DS brand is starting small but CEO Yves Bonnefont is thinking big. After selling 118,472 vehicles in 2014, Bonnefont hopes the division’s sales will eventually represent 10 percent to 15 percent of PSA’s annual volumes – up from 4 percent last year. Bonnefont, who became DS’ first CEO last June, shared his vision for the brand’s future when he met with Automotive News Europe Editor Luca Ciferri and Correspondent Bruce Gain.

What is your sales target for DS?

We are not commenting on volumes because I don’t want to be trapped by a sales target. That being said, when you look at the industry you find that the premium market accounts for 10 to 15 percent of the total worldwide sales. So it’s not crazy to think that in the midterm DS should represent between 10 and 15 percent of PSA’s total sales. That corresponds roughly to the proportion of Audi’s sales within the Volkswagen Group [Audi accounted for about 17 percent of VW Group sales last year].

How does the U.S. fit into DS’ future?

We will have three different formats to retail our DS cars: the DS Store, DS Salon and DS Commerce. We plan to implement DS Stores in the world’s top 200 cities. We are working with our dealer partners to define where we should have DS Store, DS Salon and DS Commerce locations.

How many of the 200 DS Stores will be in the U.S.?

Out of the 200, there are 30 cities in North America where we will be. It would be a bit strange to build a global premium brand without raising the question of North America.
CONTINUE AT AUTONEWS EUROPE

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Where does DS fit in the PSA family?

DS customers care about the image they project with their car. The product positioning of the two other PSA brands are different. Peugeot is more about the pleasure of driving. Citroen is more about the feel-good experience you have in your car. When you look at the customer base, they are very different people for each brand. Of the 500,000 DS cars that we have sold, 300,000 were to customers who did not own a Citroen or a Peugeot before. That’s the most striking evidence that we are addressing a different segment.
I wish them a lot of luck with making DS a real luxury brand. I really do. BUT, this quote above is rubbish, feel-good nonsense if I've ever read it.

"Peugeot is more about the pleasure of driving."

"Citroen is more about the feel-good experience you have in your car."

Seriously? You said this with a straight face? Sounds like you're saying the exact same thing to me.

Maybe before they try and make DS somehow different as a stand alone brand, they need to figure out what their other two brands really stand for.
 

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I wish them a lot of luck with making DS a real luxury brand, but this quote above is rubbish, feel-good nonsense if I've ever heard it.

"Peugeot is more about the pleasure of driving."

"Citroen is more about the feel-good experience you have in your car."

Seriously? As it relates to Peugeot and Citroen, it sounds like you're saying the same thing to me.

Maybe before they really try and make DS somehow different from the rest of the lineup and into a stand alone brand, they need to figure out what their other two brands really stand for.
I would say they need to take even another step back and ask " what is a french car in this market equal compared to German/Japanese
 

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DS line-up whilst looking from very good to good is still standard PSA hardware. Whilst their small diesels might well be top notch, I'm still not sure how much extra are people willing to pay over Citroën or Pug on the longer run

EDIT: Ok, maybe its just me. Folks are buying the same dsg/tsi/tdi crap happily with hefty premium when it says Audi instead of VW or Skoda. So, maybe the guy is right!

-J


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I'd be more than thrilled to see French cars sold in the U.S. The French seem to have balls when it comes to automotive design.

However, it's always hard for a new brand to establish a dealership network here. Maybe they could just buy out what's left of Mitsubishi and go from there.
 

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I'd really like to see DS become something.

I would say they need to take even another step back and ask " what is a french car in this market equal compared to German/Japanese
French cars, much like British and Italian cars, are very much about emotional design and but perhaps more like Italian cars in the sense that they are typically contemporary fashion. British cars are often more classic (not retro, but timeless). Personality and detail are very rich. This is something that DS already does well if you look at their exteriors and interiors. What they'll need is the right platforms and powertrains to make the cars are competitive as they need to be. French cars aren't engineered with track performance in mind like a German car but they should at least be suitably controlled and taut while being comfortable. These could be very interesting premium cars in a market where the Germans dominate.

 

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Cadillac wants to expand, Lincoln wants to expand, the Chinese via Volvo want to expand, Infiniti wants to expand, Tesla, Lexus, and so on and of course the existing big name luxury makes want to expand. A lot of existing luxury makes want to expand, doesn't seem like there is much room for PSA. But if they can offer something unique then they might have a shot.....
 

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Indeed. I've mentioned this before on GMI. Although the German trio are global champions and Lexus seems content to be in "fourth" but hold off the competition, everyone else is hoping for a change:

Acura
Buick
Cadillac
DS
Hyundai (premium sub-division)
Infiniti
Jaguar-Land Rover
Kia (premium sub-division)
Lincoln
Maserati
Porsche
Tesla
Volvo

Plus, if Saab ever gets back together.....

Not all of these are natural direct competitors, but they're all upscale or luxury brands hoping to get some piece of the market. There's a lot of growth to be had in Latin America and Asia, but with so many brands hoping to compete there will only be a few winners - and the market is not going to wait patiently.
You forgot Alfa Romeo.
 

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Cadillac wants to expand, Lincoln wants to expand, the Chinese via Volvo want to expand, Infiniti wants to expand, Tesla, Lexus, and so on and of course the existing big name luxury makes want to expand. A lot of existing luxury makes want to expand, doesn't seem like there is much room for PSA. But if they can offer something unique then they might have a shot.....
Indeed. I've mentioned this before on GMI. Although the German trio are global champions and Lexus seems content to be in "fourth" but hold off the competition, everyone else is hoping for a change:

Acura
Alfa Romeo
Buick
Cadillac
DS
Hyundai (premium sub-division)
Infiniti
Jaguar-Land Rover
Kia (premium sub-division)
Lincoln
Maserati
Porsche
Tesla
Volvo

Plus, if Saab ever gets back together.....

Not all of these are natural direct competitors, but they're all upscale or luxury brands hoping to get some piece of the market. There's a lot of growth to be had in Latin America and Asia, but with so many brands hoping to compete there will only be a few winners - and the market is not going to wait patiently.
 

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Indeed. I've mentioned this before on GMI. Although the German trio are global champions and Lexus seems content to be in "fourth" but hold off the competition, everyone else is hoping for a change:

Acura
Alfa Romeo
Buick
Cadillac
DS
Hyundai (premium sub-division)
Infiniti
Jaguar-Land Rover
Kia (premium sub-division)
Lincoln
Maserati
Porsche
Tesla
Volvo

Plus, if Saab ever gets back together.....

Not all of these are natural direct competitors, but they're all upscale or luxury brands hoping to get some piece of the market. There's a lot of growth to be had in Latin America and Asia, but with so many brands hoping to compete there will only be a few winners - and the market is not going to wait patiently.
Yes and no. Yes, everyone wants to be an upscale brand now. Yes, there is growth, and yes, there is only so much room for success.

I'll regroup these for you.

Entry lux:
Acura
Buick
Hyundai (select models)
Infiniti
Kia (select models)

All will succeed. It's impossible for them not to, except Infiniti.

It was headed in a certain direction... and now it has lost its way again. I don't know what it's going to do, but I doubt it will ever see real relevance. It will, however, make money.

Premium lux:
Cadillac
DS
Jaguar
Lincoln
Maserati
Volvo

Cadillac will has a very difficult struggle ahead of it, but GM is well-equipped to help it along.
DS will fail.
Jaguar will succeed.
Lincoln will succeed by its own metrics.
Maserati does not intend to be another massive, several hundred thousand unit brand. It will also succeed by its own metrics.
Volvo will succeed or it will die.

Outliers:
Alfa Romeo
Porsche
Tesla

Alfa is sort of directionless and will never be a direct competitor to anyone. I believe its closest competitor is Porsche.
Porsche is chasing volume and leveraging its brand, I do not believe it has specific plans for world domination. Alfa will try to do the same, reforming itself as a sort of lower-level Italian Porsche.

Tesla does not plan to be a global luxury leader, it just plans to build as many electric cars as it can, and will over them at premium prices.

Predictions for the largest players in the global luxury market 20 years out:

Audi
BMW
Cadillac
Jaguar
Lexus
Mercedes-Benz
 

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So they want to be back in the US? Good news!

I truly believe the DS line could make quite a dent in the market. I am not sure it makes sense to separate it from Citroen, the C4, if pricing could be kept at subcompact levels, could be an absolute hit with its fuel economy, practicality and uniqueness (even if it would probably need a larger gas engine for the US, the 1.6 THP should be more than enough with the car weighing little more than a ton.

I believe they still have a bit of schizophrenia regarding differentiating Peugeot and Citroen, which results partly from the GM-like issue of separate dealer networks (which could perhaps be merged if the redundant models would be weeded out), and partly of the overly conservative strategy of being afraid to change too much. The current positioning results from the misguided efforts to "fill in the gaps" in the Citroen lineup with Peugeot took over with what are basically redressed mid-market Peugeots (Citroen was always strong in small inexpensive cars, like 2CV and large luxury ones, like the DS, while Peugeot has always ruled the midmarket and had a hard time getting their luxury cars anywhere).

IMHO, their idea is to make Peugeot a slightly more stylish and interesting VW, which they are doing a good job of, and Citroen is to be back to practical yet original. The problem is that it would only make sense to cut down on all the same-same-but-different models, i.e. not replace the C1, C3, C4 and C5, as well as kill Citroen (or Peugeot, but rather Citroen) LCVs. I am not sure if PSA is truly ready to do that - this would mean quite a loss of volume for the Citroen dealers, especially those who don't want to fork out on a fancy showroom for the DS's.
 

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Cadillac wants to expand, Lincoln wants to expand, the Chinese via Volvo want to expand, Infiniti wants to expand, Tesla, Lexus, and so on and of course the existing big name luxury makes want to expand. A lot of existing luxury makes want to expand, doesn't seem like there is much room for PSA. But if they can offer something unique then they might have a shot.....
Like Tesla.
 

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I wish them a lot of luck with making DS a real luxury brand. I really do. BUT, this quote above is rubbish, feel-good nonsense if I've ever read it.

"Peugeot is more about the pleasure of driving."

"Citroen is more about the feel-good experience you have in your car."

Seriously? You said this with a straight face? Sounds like you're saying the exact same thing to me.

Maybe before they try and make DS somehow different as a stand alone brand, they need to figure out what their other two brands really stand for.
Precisely.

Sounds an awful lot like Johan II to me. All talk and no substance.

Peugeot should be the mainstream and sport brand like Chevrolet.
Citroen should completely take over the luxury line. DS just doesn't resonate as a luxury brand. DS as a luxury model, yes.

Now, I am aware that some French purists distinguish greatly between Citroen and Peugeot. Therefore any model realignments would have to be accomplished over one or two production cycles.

Both Citroen and Peugeot must be sold in the U.S./Canada at the same time, for either of them to be accepted by North American consumers. But both must have clearly focused target groups. Citroen and Peugeot would do well in Quebec, Ontario, Florida, Louisiana and even California where large Francophone communities exist.

I say, Go for it! But, cut the fluff and give us some real products that define who we are, not some pie in the sky dreamer salutations.
 

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Yes and no. Yes, everyone wants to be an upscale brand now. Yes, there is growth, and yes, there is only so much room for success.
I was just listing all of the brands, rather than implying they are all direct competitors. I don't see Acura and Maserati being competitors any time soon (ever). Each is going for a different part of the upscale and luxury market, same as how Fiat has unique plans for Alfa and Maserati.
 

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Most Americans have no grasp of what a French car is. It means French brands have an uphill battle to fight. It also means the stigma of French [un]reliability has long past.
While I don't think there's a particular set of values associated with French automobiles as exists for German or Japanese cars, I think the French have as good a chance as any to make a go of it. French fashion and "sophistication" could easily (IMO) make for marketing premium vehicles.
 

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Hey, I like Citroen's place at the Champs-Elysees... But then, Renault has a restaurant...

At any rate, the market will be moving towards premium - owning a car is a luxury and spending $/EUR 20-30K on something that is mundane will be harder and harder to justify. Life is too short to drive Honda Civics. The premium/specialty segments are the ones to grow, and Citroen's strategy involving the likes of C4 Cactus and the DS line is the right one for the future.
 
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