The Truth About Cars » emp2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 20:45:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » emp2 The Most Important French Car Of The Decade Is A Minivan Tue, 02 Apr 2013 12:00:33 +0000

The MPV segment, so popular in Europe, was basically invented by the French. The Renault Espace, the grandfather of the modern minivan, was originally supposed to be a Peugeot, until PSA deemed it too expensive and sold it to Renault. Nearly two decades later, Renault disrupted the segment again with their compact Scenic minivan, which spawned imitators from nearly every single brand.

Citroen’s newest MPV, the C4 Picasso, is a massively important car for PSA and the French car industry. It’s not as sexy as the Renaultsport or Alpine products coming down the pipeline, nor does it have the enthusiast-weirdo cachet of previous PSA products. But this car will be one of the products that determines PSA’s future. Having missed the boat on making a push in the low-cost segment, the C4 and the Peugeot 208 will define the next generation of PSA products, as the two brands attempt a convoluted re-positioning in the marketplace.

The Picasso is the first car to ride on PSA’s new EMP2 modular architecture. The Picasso will be chock full of PSA’s latest tech, from blind spot cameras to massive touchscreens to adaptive cruise control. New diesel powertrains will offer in excess of 70 mpg on the European cycle and C02 emissions on par with a Toyota Prius; not hugely exciting, but if you ever hail a cab in Paris, you’ll probably be riding in one of these.

PSA desperately needs to C4 to succeed. As the test best for their next generation architecture, the future of PSA hangs in the balance. Strong sales will mean a whole new generation of EMP2 based vehicles. Failure could entail another bailout or worse.

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Analysis: Three Different Approaches To Maximize Scale Fri, 22 Feb 2013 14:00:20 +0000

We’ve discussed the importance of scale countless times on this website. La Tribune takes a brief look at Ford, Volkswagen and PSA and the different ways they are working to achieve economies of scale in one of the toughest markets in the auto industry; the C-Segment.

As you’re all well aware by now, Volkswagen’s MQB platform represents the most radical approach to a modular platform. The distance from the front axle to the pedal box remains the sole fixed dimension. Everything else is modular, capable of being snapped into place like Lego. MQB will underpin everything from the Polo to the Passat (B-D segment) and will be built in North and South America, Europe and even China. Annual volumes are expected to be 3.5 million units by 2018, roughly 35 percent of VW Group’s entire global sales.

Slightly more conservative is the path taken by PSA. Not long ago, we published a side-by-side analysis of MQB and PSA’s new EMP2 modular platform. EMP2 is a bit less ambitious, covering only C and D segment cars, MPVs, light commercial vehicles and crossovers. These segments represent a significant portion of PSA’s sales, but the lack of B segment capability is a question mark, especially given the popularity of this segment in global markets, and Peugeot’s own 208. Instead, PSA will leave B-segment development up to Opel, as part of the GM-PSA alliance. While VW touts MQB as a holistic approach to manufacturing, parts procurement and component sharing, PSA’s message with EMP2 has been focused around weight reduction, cutting CO2 emissions and providing flexibility in terms of vehicle size and packaging. Given PSA’s status as Europe’s leader in low emissions vehicles (an average of 112.5 grams/km, 0.1 gram better than Toyota), this is somewhat understandable. Unlike MQB, only the rear sections of the car are interchangeable. Vehicles can be had with a short or long wheelbase, a low or high driving position and a solid rear axle or independent suspension (useful for marketing low-cost variants in emerging markets). Volumes are much more modest; 1.8 million units EMP2 based cars are expected to be sold by 2018.

And what about Ford? Despite the Global C platform being confined to one segment, and thus not exactly modular, Ford has apparently acheived volumes of 2 million C-segment cars annually. The global C platform, which underpins cars like the C-Max, Focus and Escape/Kuga and will likely add a couple Lincoln variants as well. They key difference between Ford, VW and PSA is that Ford is the sole automaker to sell their car globally, as part of the “One Ford” strategy. Rather than adapting models, or even the output of whole brands to regional needs as VW does, or simply not compete in some large markets like PSA, Ford’s entire product line has significant global exposure in a way that the aggregate model ranges of VW and PSA don’t. Ford hasn’t hinted about moving towards a more modular framework in the future. Even in the face of declining sales in Europe and declining market share in North America, Global C’s volumes are impressive enough on their own.

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How Close Are We To A PSA Bailout? Mon, 11 Feb 2013 16:03:28 +0000

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.

The most recent news concerning PSA stems from comments made by French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who denied that there would be a PSA bailout, but admitted that there was a plan in place should the need arise. Technically, there already has been a bailout; back in October, the French government helped arrange a re-financing deal for Banque PSA, the company’s captive lending arm. Since bailing out PSA itself would have been a political nightmare both at home and among the wider EU, a helping hand for Banque PSA was seen as an expedient way to aid PSA.

PSA seemingly kicked off 2013 with a product offensive; an all-new modular platform is said to underpin PSA’s C and D-segment cars, which account for most of their sales, and a new hybrid platform using compressed air promises the usual world-saving spiel that makes dilettante green car fans and government officials go gaga. But these new product plans raised far more questions than they actually solved.

For starters, the new product plans were peculiar in light of the supposed platform sharing and other synergies that GM and PSA touted as benefits of their allance. But that union appears to be as good as dead. While PSA was hoping to leverage GM’s experience in emerging markets like China, GM was apparently looking to use PSA as a dumping ground for its troubled Opel division.

The original GM-PSA platform sharing plans called for a broad range of tie-ups with city cars and compact MPVs, as well as Opel producing PSA’s D-Segment car. Now, PSA will apparently go it alone with a new modular platform called EMP2, which covers the C and D segments, which covers the mid-size and large car, MPV and crossover segments that comprise most of PSA’s range. A modular platform makes sense for Peugeot financially, but it requires a great deal of capital that PSA doesn’t necessarily have.

Even more pie-in-the-sky is the compressed-air-hybrid project. As outlandish as it may be, there appear to be a number of stumbling blocks that make the whole deal look like little more than vaporware. Bosch, PSA’s partner in the compressed air hybrid scheme, noted that “…Unspecified technical challenges have yet to be overcome before a commercial launch…“, despite PSA’s insistence of a 2016 launch date – a relative blip in time in the auto industry.

The answer appears to be lie in the use of these products as a PR pitch for a forthcoming bailout. Industry observers will recall that GM trotted out vehicles like the Volt and the Malibu as justification for its own bailout. In addition, the compressed air hybrid is far less of a moonshot right now than the Volt was in 2008, and PSA’s partnership with Bosch lends the program a certain gravitas. But as it stands, PSA can’t even gain traction with popular products like the 208 B-Segment hatchback – how can they be expected to introduce this kind of technology on such a short timeline?

However, if PSA were to go hat in hand to the French government, they could point to EMP2 and the new compressed air system as evidence that they are well positioned to be competitive in the future. Hybrid sales are up more than 50 percent in Europe, and green issues are still en vogue with a majority of consumers. French President Francois Hollande employs a hybrid Citroen as his official State Car, and the new compressed air hybrid is an important exercise in government relations if PSA is going to get any state assistance. Meanwhile, the first EMP2 product is the Citroen Picasso (above), one of PSA’s few bright spots, and a consistently strong seller in the European MPV segment. Similar to how the Malibu and the Volt represented the here and now and the future for GM, these two will be the emblems of PSA’s immediate recovery and its climb back to relevance in the future. Prototypes of the Picasso have been seen out and about near PSA’s Spanish assembly plants, but the compressed air hybrid isn’t nearly as far along. Rest assured, if it does make it to production, it won’t suffer from anywhere near the same vitriol as the Volt did.


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Is Citroen’s DSX Crossover Our First Look At PSA’s New EMP2-Based Product? Wed, 06 Feb 2013 14:00:07 +0000

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?

Sized like a BMW X3, the DSX, as the crossover concept is known, will be built at PSA’s Wuhan, China, factory, and will join two other models (likely large sedans) as part of a DS expansion for China. The big question for us at TTAC is whether the DSX is the first manifestation of the new EMP2 modular platform.

While some outlets suggest that the DSX’s nature as a China-oriented product may mean that it is built off existing technology, TTAC feels that this is an inaccurate prediction. For starters, Wuhan is earmarked for an EMP2 product in 2014. Furthermore, PSA’s current crossover technology is essentially borrowed from Mitsubishi, and can’t even support hybrid technology. A DS5 Hybrid might serve to underpin the DSX, but why launch your next onslaught of product with already dated technology?

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GM To Use PSA Modular Platform For MPVs, No Large Car Mentioned Thu, 24 Jan 2013 17:10:04 +0000

Less than a day after PSA announced their new EMP2 modular platform for C and D Segment cars, TTAC was already questioning the health of the seemingly moribund GM-PSA alliance for medium and large-size cars. Now, we have an answer – Opel will be adopting EMP2.

Under the deal, the Opel Zafira and Peugeot 3008 MPVs will be built on the EMP2 platform, while smaller MPVs like the Peugeot 2008 and Citroen C3 Picasso (which are B-segment cars and thus not covered by EMP2) will be engineered by GM at Opel’s facility in Ruesselsheim, along with the standard B-Segment cars, using an older PSA  B-segment platform.

Notably absent was any mention of any larger C or D segment cars, as originally announced in the summer. Opel’s Steve Girsky told Reuters that, with respect to the Zafira, “we didn’t have enough volume to justify doing it on our own”. Ostensibly, PSA didn’t have the volume for the Citroen C5 or Peugeot 508 to do a D-segment car on their own either. The big question is, what happened to these plans? Opel’s own Insignia at least has some export potential to help add volume, but the missing large sedan is a big question mark in a plan put forth by two auto makers with dim prospects.

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Analysis: PSA Debuts EMP2, Their Own Modular Platform System Thu, 24 Jan 2013 16:24:33 +0000

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.

The driving force behind modular platforms is scale. Auto makers are competing in a global marketplace selling an extremely complex commodity product with high R&D costs and low profit margins. Modular platforms help by creating a standard platform and component kit across a number of model lines, making the car less complex to manufacture and allowing for the platform itself to be amortized across a number of model lines.

One could argue that BMW was one of the pioneers of modular platforms, building the 3, 5 and 7-Series in the familiar “one sausage, many lengths” format that we all know and love (or loathe, depending on how much you emotionally invest yourself in the brand). Recently, Volkswagen has taken modularity to  another level with their MQB platform. Different components can be added or removed depending on the vehicle’s footprint or engine size, but the distance between the front axle and the pedal box remains fixed. This allows VW an unprecedented amount of flexibility to build pretty much every transverse, front-wheel drive vehicle off of one platform, at any of its global factories that is configured to built MQB-based cars. The advantages as far as scale goes are unprecedented.

PSA, the struggling French automaker behind Peugeot and Citroen, has just released their own version of a modular platform, dubbed EMP2, as a means of capitalizing on that trend. From a product standpoint,  EMP2 will cover the C and D segment cars in the PSA range, which are fairly large for Europe, but account for about half of PSA’s sales.Crucially, EMP2 will not be applicable to B segment cars, while VW’s MQB platform will, a major oversight given that PSA relies on markets like Europe, Africa and South America, where B segment cars are most important.

Instead, EMP2 will be the building blocks for vehicles like the Citroen C5 mid-size sedan, the DS4 and DS5 premium hatchbacks and the Peugeot 308 and 508, which compete in the C and D segment respectively. EMP2 will also be used to build station wagons, SUVs (which PSA currently sources from other OEMs) MPV-type vehicles (minivan type cars that are smaller than North American minivans, a popular segment in Europe that PSA has traditionally been an innovation leader) such as the next generation Citroen C4 Picasso and the all-important light commercial vehicle segment.

PSA is touting weight savings of 154 lbs versus outgoing models, with a 22 percent reduction in CO2 emissions thanks to technologies like start-stop systems, electric power steering, lightweight construction materials and low rolling resistance tires. Other advanced features like electronic parking brakes, active aerodynamics and radar-guided cruise control were also touted in a short video released by PSA.

From a manufacturing standpoint, PSA appears to have emulated a number of VW’s innovations with EMP2, while making some interesting advancements. Much like MQB, EMP2 relies on a series of “plug and play” modules, with some interesting differentiations. For example, EMP2 offers two rear suspension options; a beam axle or a multilink independent system can be optioned, depending on whether PSA wants to keep costs down or to provide a superior driving experience. A high or low driving position and a short or long rear section can be substituted, allowing for an easy transition between a passenger car or something like an MPV or commercial vehicle that requires more cargo room and a higher seating position.

Where EMP2 appears to fall flat is in the front section – while MQB offers an exceptional degree of customization up front (with only the one fixed point) it appears that PSA has kept the front section fixed, with various powertrains able to be installed. Given the size and profitability delta between PSA and VW, it’s understandable that PSA would opt for a simpler, less expensive solution, though the importance of scale and flexibility suggests that VW will continue to have the upper hand with MQB. It’s likely that the fixed front section is one of the key stumbling blocks preventing EMP2 from being used as a B-segment platform, since the single fixed point of MQB allows for different wheelbases as well, something EMP2 is not capable of.

From a manufacturing standpoint, PSA has also given up much of the flexibility that Volkswagen enjoys with MQB, in exchange for what is ostensibly a cheaper and less complex architecture. PSA simply does not have the R&D budget and global scale to embark on something as ambitious as MQB, and therefore must make tradeoffs in certain areas. On the other hand, PSA doesn’t require such an overarching modular architecture like VW does, and can tailor its factories to produce popular models that align closely with local tastes (such as high-end crossovers and larger sedans in China, MPVs and C-Segment cars in Europe), whereas Volkswagen must manage multiple brands and product lines across a greater number of markets.

The first EMP2 products will be the Citroen Picasso MPV and the new C-segment Peugeot 308 – which will compete against the MQB-based Golf, as well as its Skoda and SEAT siblings. Worth noting is that both VW and PSA are debuting these products at a time when the mainstream car market is eroding in Europe. The real threat may come from the low-cost entries, specifically Renault’s Dacia line, which offers B and C segment sedans and hatchbacks, as well as compact SUVs and MPVs, at cut-rate prices, with little appreciable difference in quality. While high-content features like start-stop and radar-guided cruise control may be absent, the basic features that many motorists require, like air-conditioning and central locking are still available. And given Europe’s precarious economic state, the price – frequently under 10,000 euro – is right. Meanwhile, Renault, taking advantage of their own modular platform system, is making as much as 9 percent profit on the cars, margins that PSA can only dream of.

Also worth noting is how EMP2 would integrate with any potential GM tie-up. This past summer, plans for a joint Opel/PSA tie-up in the D segment space were discussed, with Opel tapped to build the successor to Citroen’s D-segment entry, the C5. Half a year later, Peugeot is debuting a vision that runs counter to the Opel plan, one which would provide significant cost-savings for both auto makers, despite the seemingly moribund alliance. Clarification from both parties will be required to get a picture of PSA’s future product plans, as well as the strength of the GM-PSA alliance. In addition, this may be a signal regarding PSA’s own lack of faith in Opel, which is in the throes of a near-meltdown financially.



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