It’s been a bad week for PSA, but at least they’ve got something to celebrate about. French driver Sebastian Loeb, behind the wheel of a Peugeot 208 T16, broke the record for the fastest time up Pikes Peak, at 8 minutes, 13.878 seconds, beating the old record by 92.286 seconds.
Mired in the same overcapacity crisis as the rest of Europe’s auto makers, the founding family of PSA is reportedly willing to give up control of the company that owns Peugeot and Citroen in exchange for a fresh infusion of capital from GM, which currently owns 7 percent of PSA.
A quarter of a century ago, Ari Vanaten attacked Pikes Peak in the legendary Peugeot 405 T16, and the resulting footage of the attempt led to the renowned documentary “Climb Dance”. For 2013, Peugeot will be back at Pikes Peak with the appropriately named 208 T16. Piloting the 208 T16 will be WRC ace Sebastian Loeb, which should make the 208 T16 a formidable contender on that basis alone.
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.
PSA announced their renewed brand strategy for their Peugeot and Citroen lines, and the situation has finally been clarified after frequent back and forth reports that contradicted one another. It turns out that PSA will employ a three-tier approach that is equally confusing, with Citroen as the lowest tier with Peugeot on top. But then there’s also Citroen’s DS line, which is supposed to be upscale itself. Confused? So are we.
Last month, we suggested that PSA’s new compressed air hybrid system was a good way for PSA to drum up some investment into its ailing new car business. Now comes word that PSA wants to talk to other car makers, including alliance partner General Motors, about pooling the R&D cost of the new tech.
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.