The last Peugeot was sold in America 26 years ago. Most Americans alive today have never seen a new Peugeot or Citroen but that may be about to change. PSA Group, the parent company of both Peugeot and Citroen — which also markets premium automobiles under the DS brand — has recently agreed to buy Opel and Vauxhall from General Motors. Its CEO, Carlos Tavares, announced last week that he has hired Larry Dominique to head up a team that will focus on bringing PSA cars back to the American car market.
“This is a market that, as a full-line automaker, you need to be part of,” Dominique tells Automotive News. He was in the US last week on a tour of U.S. cities to select a location for the company’s new US headquarters. “But this is a 10-year project. It’s not about jumping in and creating market share as quickly as possible.”
Tavares has dubbed the initiative the “Push to Pass” plan. He intends to establish PSA first as a mobility company providing US consumers with ride hailing and car sharing services. Later, PSA will introduce one or more of its vehicles to those services so people can become familiar with the products the company offers. A retail sales network would follow after that. The company has not yet decided which of its cars will be best suited to the US market. It could even decide to bring in an Opel model or two.
How much will all this cost? “It’s going to be a significant amount of money to re-enter the market,” Dominique said. “But we haven’t set a number. If we can find more efficient ways to market and sell our vehicles — whether it’s in a traditional partnership with investors or not — those are things that can heavily influence the cost of coming to market.”
Asked if the company learned any valuable lessons from selling cars in the US in prior decades, Dominique scoffed, “The reality is that Peugeot as a brand left the United States 26 years ago. The marketplace is so different today. What happened back then — what went right, what might have gone wrong, the reasons for the exit — to me are irrelevant now.” He said PSA will study the market as it rolls out its 10-year plan, using its interactions with consumers in mobility settings to learn what they like and don’t like about vehicles.