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.
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.
If GM wants to know what will happen when things get tough at its Opel plants, all it has to do is ask partner PSA. Workers at PSA’s doomed Aulnay plant “face jeers and threats, as well as eggs and other objects hurled by striking colleagues protesting against the shutdown and Peugeot’s restructuring plans,” as Reuters reports from the frontlines. (Read More…)