Peugeot, Citroen Eye Return To US Market
Citroen stopped selling cars in the United States in 1974. The last Peugeot was sold here in 1991. Since then, the two companies have merged to become PSA. They continue to sell cars in Europe. Now there is a possibility that either or both may return to North America in the near future.
Citroen has always been known for building quirky cars. In 1948, it created the diminutive 2CV, a two cylinder Quonset hut on wheels that endeared itself to generations of buyers for its toughness and durability. Plus, when you were done using it, you could just hose out the interior whenever necessary. Citroen also built the stylish DS limousine much favored by French presidents and wealthy people who wanted to drive something other than a Mercedes.
In Geneva earlier this month, PSA brand chief Yves Bonnefont told the motoring press, “Our Back in the Race restructuring program has been successfully completed. Now comes the next step. And this has put the issue of the U.S. on the table.” Thanks to success in the Chinese market in the past few years, the company is profitable for the first time in many years. It launched its DS sub-brand there in 2010. DS for Citroen is equivalent to what Lexus is for Toyota or Infiniti is for Nissan.
Now, PSA has decided to bring the sub-brand to Europe, making it the standard bearer for it premium vehicles sold there. Its latest creation is a concept called the DS Divine, which is said to be headed into production soon. If PSA decides to re-enter the American market, the Divine is very likely that car that will arrive here first.
According to The Telegraph, the car has no back window, a feature intended to give passengers a sense of being ensconced inside a cocoon of security and luxury. The interior features embroidery by Lesage and crystal highlights by Swarovski. On the outside, the sheetmetal is deeply sculpted in dramatic fashion. Bland it is not. Citroen’s Bonnefont says it is a “natural candidate” for the US.
As tasty as the DS Divine might be, PSA has a problem. It has no dealers. It has no parts or service infrastructure. And most Americans alive today have never heard of Citroen or Peugeot. “Pricing is an issue, Richard Lucki tells Automotive News. He PSA’s man on the ground in Detroit until 2013. “Everyone else — Audi, BMW, Mercedes — has manufacturing here.”
PSA maintained an office in the US until recently because it wanted to keep abreast of US market and regulatory developments. The thought that it might return to North America was always something in the back of the company’s senior managers. The company announced in Geneva that it will bring 6 new DS models to market in the next 4 years. Will any of them make it to America? Stay tuned. The company has promised to clarify its newest sales strategy by early April.