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.
An invasive species originating in North America is threatening the native fauna of Europe in a big way. Small crossovers, largely based on B and C segment hatchbacks, are one of the few growth segments in Europe’s ailing auto industry, so much so that they could even help reverse the fortunes of a couple ailing auto makers.
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?
What would you say to a hybrid B-segment car that weighed 1700 lbs, emitted half the carbon emissions of a Toyota Prius and still hit 62 mph in 8 seconds?
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.
After approving a $1.6 billion loan guarantee for PSA’s captive finance arm, the European Commission demanded a restructuring plan for all of PSA within six months.
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 French government is denying that it plans to acquire a stake in PSA, but France’s Prime Minister told reporters that mechanisms for providing government assistance have already been vetted.
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.
We did not believe that EU regulators would let France’s government bailout of GM’s alliance partner PSA skate through unchallenged. State aid to companies is against EU rules, and refinancing of Banque PSA Finance is state aid EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia wrote in a letter to the French government. This according to a report in the French daily Les Echos. (Read More…)
The fate of PSA and the Algerian people has been intertwined for decades. The group’s Aulnay plant, which is due to close, was originally staffed by immigrants from North Africa, lured by the promise of a better life and secure jobs in France. And while Peugeot sales withered in France, the brand has been traditionally strong in North Africa, with 2011 bringing a 93 percent increase in sales for Peugeot.
But Algeria’s push for a domestic car industry doesn’t seem to include PSA. Arch-rival Renault is due to set up a factory in the country, but PSA has apparently rejected overtures from the French government to take a stake in the ailing car maker.
Peugeot is deepening job cuts at its French factories, with another 1,500 positions set to be made redundant as part of a massive cost-cutting effort. Meanwhile, rival automaker Renault is expanding its operations in Morocco as its Dacia brand continues to steamroll through the European market.
Peugeot will eliminate an additional 1,500 French jobs by 2014, bringing the previously announced 8,000 layoffs close to 10,000, PSA managers told union representatives yesterday. (Read More…)