A bit of light reading for everyone wishing they were in Geneva, munching on some pain au chocolat while paying $8 for a Nespresso. CAR magazine contributor Stephen Bayley has a very entertaining essay entitled “The End of the French Car“, in which he laments the demise of the quirky, compact French automobile.
The French government is planning on raising taxes on diesel fuel, branding it a “health issue”, much to the chagrin of consumers and the country’s auto industry.
Prevailing wisdom today holds that small cars, manufactured in developed economies are some of the least profitable cars in existence. So why do companies like Peugeot, Citroen and Renault persist in producing them?
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. Unlike the poorly interpreted plans for Mazda to be a “premium” brand, PSA really is planning to take Peugeot upscale, despite having zero brand equity, an upscale Citroen line and zero exposure to the profit center of the future, low-cost cars.
It’s safe to say that 2012 was PSA’s annus horriblus. From job cuts to a shaky alliance with GM to bond rating downgrades, everything that could have gone wrong for Peugeot-Citroen ended up happening. And 2013 may not be much better, as the prospect of a bailout looks ever more like reality.
PSA is still faced with the structural problems that dog pretty much every car maker in Europe; a weak economy, rampant overcapacity and a demographic deck stacked against growth in the new car market. Unlike chief rival Renault, PSA has failed to expand its horizons beyond Europe, with little in the way of low cost offerings for emerging markets. On top of that, attempts by PSA at exercising financial prudence, like cutting jobs and closing factories, have been met with outrage in France. A proposed alliance with General Motors has produced little in the way of any tangible results.
China’s love affair with crossovers and PSA’s desire to expand in the country has led to a logical conclusion; why not a crossover for the Citroen DS line, one that PSA is trying to push hard as a premium alternative to the usual upscale offerings?
We at TTAC are very excited by modular platforms, and it has nothing to do with undiagnosed autism spectrum disorders or a lack of interest in the wider world outside autos. Modular platforms are the next great leap forward for auto makers; green cars help save cute animals, and thus get all the attention, but guess what underpins the Nissan Leaf? A version of Renault-Nissan’s B Platform, which underpins everything from the Cube to the Clio to the Sandero.
Today is a sad day for TTAC’s French car fans – the last Citroen C6 rolled off the assembly line, ending a proud tradition of French luxury cars that fought a losing battle with the Germans for segment supremacy.
Next up in the “we couldn’t make this shit up” category – PSA and Citroen were hit by strikes after workers were called out for being unproductive.
If the road outside of your house gets a new layer of blacktop, and you forget to move your car before the work crews arrive, what would happen? In America, you’d probably have to look for your vehicle in to impound lot. In China, the car would still be there. But it would wear asphalt shoes. (Read More…)
Fans of HBO’s hit show The Wire will remember The New Day Co-Op, a coalition of Baltimore heroin dealers who band together in part to get better deals on their drug supply and remain strong against law enforcement and rival gangsters. Half a world a way, a similar proposal was floated by Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, but never came to pass.
“When you do everything right but too late, you do it all wrong. Before reaching a dead end, PSA decided to forge a partnership with a manufacturer [General Motors] that I don’t consider to be among the industry’s leaders of the pack. Overall, I think there is a lack of ambition [when it comes to product] from the French manufacturers.”
How does the French government save an ailing car maker that employs thousands of people without actually bailing out the auto maker? By baling out their finance unit, of course!