Citroen won’t share its volume targets but says it has an “ambitious” five-year plan for Australia, and is open to expanding its scant dealer network.
However, it says it doesn’t intend on being a mass-market brand and isn’t chasing volume at all costs. The company also says it takes inspiration from other brands in the market, including Volvo.
“I think we can categorically say we are committed to the Australian market. And it’s not something that we’re just saying, we’re showing that by the product that we’re bringing to the market,” said Chloe Fraser, group public relations and corporate communications manager.
“We do have a quite ambitious five-year plan, but that doesn’t again mean that we’re going to really aim for the top 10,” said Peugeot Citroen Australia managing director Kate Gillis.
“But what we do have is a model that is sustainable for our dealer network, and for us to be able to bring it to the market.
“And we work very closely with our dealer network, having them being successful is our success. But we also need to make sure that we’ve got the right levels of volume moving forward to make their business successful.”
Peugeot Citroen Australia intends to increase its marketing spend going into next year, with a targeted approach. For example, it’ll promote its vehicles at the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show.
“You’ll find particularly as we get into next year, you’ll find more of a presence, more investment, really, at the end of the day on both Peugeot and Citroen. Really earmarking the customers and the target audience that we’re after,” said Ms Gillis.
It helps the brand has fresh product to promote.
The brand re-introduced the C4 nameplate late last year to Australia on a new, high-riding hatchback, and the electric version offered in Europe – known as the e-C4 – remains under evaluation but is looking “favourable” for a local launch.
“There’s probably still a bit of hesitancy around going full EV; PHEV does provide an alternate but also so does the petrol engine right now. What that looks like in 2 or 3 years’ time is going to be part of the customer’s journey,” said Ms Gillis, noting Citroen is embarking on an electrification journey like its sister brand Peugeot.
Citroen sold just seven vehicles last month, one fewer than Rolls-Royce, putting it above only Chrysler on the sales charts. But that fellow Stellantis brand has been withdrawn from Australia, with the single 300 sedan sold likely the last.
To the end of September, Citroen is sitting at 204 sales. It’s up 114.7 per cent year-to-date, and looks set to avoid a repeat of its ignominious performance in 2020 and 2021 where it was outsold by Ferrari, among other exotic brands.
“The volume that we had for last month doesn’t take into account the order bank that we have, it doesn’t take into account any of the pre-sales for instance that we have on C5 X, so there‘s plenty of other elements that are not added and that we don’t see in VFACTS,” said Ms Gillis.
“So we’re quite comfortable with the performance so far year-to-date… We should see that still performing into the end of 2022 and into 2023.”
It has no plans to reintroduce any light commercial vehicles, which are now the purview of Peugeot.
Citroen says it has been challenged by supply as a result of the chip shortage, but some vehicles – like the C5 X – have good supply despite higher than expected early demand.
The brand has only 10 sales dealerships nationwide, though you can service your Citroen through 36 locations in total.
The company says its 10 sales dealerships are “strategically placed” throughout Australia, while it’s currently working to ensure each location looks appropriately premium.
“We get interest from [prospective new] dealers all the time if I’m honest with you, but we also need to look at in terms of what does that mean for the brand itself,” said Ms Gillis.
“Very importantly we look at dealer points where we’ve actually got our target audience, so it’s a good mixture of existing customers from a service perspective but also where the potential for new customers would be.
“If we were to go through the next number of years with the type with the size of our dealer network, we’d be happy. But we do have some dealers who are really keen to be involved with the Citroen brand.”
Ms Gillis also noted that a Peugeot dealership can still source a Citroen for an interested customer, even if it doesn’t sell Citroens.