By on April 6, 2017

Peugeot 405

France’s PSA Group appears to be getting serious about its re-entry into the U.S. market, naming former Nissan executive Larry Dominique as the head of its North American endeavors. That means the possibility of seeing new Peugeots or Citroëns on the road is no longer just a pipe dream.

However, PSA hasn’t yet made up its mind on which brands will debut in America. The Peugeot lineup makes the most sense, as it’s the French brand most American’s actually still remember, but Citroen has more eccentric models that could appeal to a specific subset of customers. The latter also has the DS sub-brand that might appeal to upscale buyers, even if it were to come in on its own.

The final decision won’t come until PSA has spent time and money performing loads of consumer research and logistical analysis. 

“This is a market that, as a full-line automaker, you need to be part of,” Dominique told Automotive News in a phone interview yesterday as he scouted U.S. cities for the future company headquarters. “But this is a 10-year project. It’s not about jumping in and creating market share as quickly as possible.”

Dominique, 54, will be senior vice president for the newly minted PSA North America and placed in charge of returning the automaker to the U.S. for first time since 1991 — the year Peugeot pulled up stakes and left town.

“The reality is that Peugeot as a brand left the United States 26 years ago,” he said. “The marketplace is so different today. What happened back then — what went right, what might have gone wrong, the reasons for the exit — to me are irrelevant now. The brands themselves, the vehicles that PSA produces are so different than their positioning back then.”

The comeback will be anything but traditional, however. Last year, PSA CEO Carlos Tavares suggested the company would probably re-enter the U.S. as a mobility company first, offering ride-hailing and car-sharing services in French vehicles. While bringing your introductory fleet in as taxis doesn’t sound like a great way to develop intrigue, offering ride-sharing could be a good way to acquire feedback and get potential buyers interested in your wares. General Motors and Mercedes-Benz are both taking similar approaches with their own rent-a-car programs.

Eventually, PSA does want people purchasing its cars, though it Dominique has declined to say if the plan is to do that through a dealership-based distribution network or not. He did specify that the goal was not to have PSA enter the U.S. within ten years, but to have it be well-established by that date.

“It’s going to be a significant amount of money to re-enter the market,” he said. “But we haven’t set a number … If we can find more efficient ways to market and sell our vehicles — whether it’s in a traditional partnership with investors or not — those are things that can heavily influence the cost of coming to market.”

[Image: PSA Group]

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34 Comments on “France’s Charge Back Into the U.S. Market to be Led by Former Nissan Executive...”

  • avatar

    Bring back Citroen. Please? Pullleeeeezzzzzzeeeeee???????

  • avatar

    I want a Citroen Cactus.

  • avatar

    Starting them out in taxi and other local fleets makes perfect sense, because it means you can start with a regional distribution and service network. (An LA Taxi buyer isn’t going to care if there are PSA dealerships in Colorado, or even San Francisco) When selling to retail customers, a lack of nationwide service availability could be a bit problem.

    My only memory of Peugeot in this country is the fact Columbo drove one… Mom liked to watch the reruns.

    • 0 avatar

      Good suggestion, but maybe only for Peugeot. The Citroen would be too upscale (potentially), and the DS would be luxury. Taxi service might *might* make older drivers forget all those bumper stickers that read “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Peugeots”.

  • avatar

    Because Americans are pining for French cars.

  • avatar

    PSA could sell German engineered and built Opels, cars which are still available as Buicks in NA to sharing companies as Peugeots (or Opels as they own that brand now)? Probably there’s non-compete clause in PSA-GM deal, though.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    “whether it’s in a traditional partnership with investors or not”

    *Cough cough Opel production for Buick.*

  • avatar

    I understand they no longer make the Bipper Tepee. Sad!

  • avatar

    PSA makes some nicely styled small cars and some pretty good small diesels – just what the American consumer has been buying in huge numbers – NOT.

  • avatar

    I thought the initial coverage of PSA’s return to the US I saw on the first of the month was an April Fool’s joke.

  • avatar

    Hmmmm. I need a backup for when my Giulia is in the shop. Should I get a Peugeot, or a Citroen?

  • avatar

    Isn’t deja vu a French term? How fitting.
    My pug memory is NHSTA finding the 504 wagon grossly unsafe.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    These Citroens might have some appeal here in the states.

    The Citroen C1 an A-segment vehicle built on the same platform as a Toyota Aygo. (Below a Yaris, just process that) Though considering its the same size as a Chevy Spark with low fuel prices you wonder how much appeal it would have here in the states. A good city car or Zip car option.

    The C2 is a B-segment sized hatch and compares to the European VW Polo or US Fiesta.

    The DS3 is a hot hatch and convertible which is in the same class as a GTI and Focus ST. A few years ago Top Gear took quite a liking to it compared to a Fiat 500 Abarth.

    The Cactus is a compact CUV. These days it would get folks in the showroom.

    Their van range are basically rebadged Fiats. Some offer fully electric power.

    For any of these to succeed there needs to be a good dealer network and service that literally pampers the owner.

    • 0 avatar
      Johannes Dutch

      The C3 is Citroën’s B-segment model, there is no C2 anymore.

      The DS3 is not a hot hatch, it’s a more luxurious B-segment car, like a MINI or Alfa Romeo MiTo. The Peugeot 208 GTi is PSA’s only B-segment hot hatch.

      About the vans: The Peugeot Partner and Citroën Berlingo are strictly PSA, the first gen was introduced in 1996. The latest new van model, bigger than the Partner and Berlingo, is a PSA-Toyota cooperation. Look up Peugeot Expert, Citroën Jumper and Toyota Proace (the Proace is the panel van, the Proace Verso is the MPV).

  • avatar

    I’d jump at the chance to buy a new Citroën C6 with the awesome hydropneumatic suspension and its dream-whip ride . . . . . wait, they *discontinued* the magic-carpet-ride suspension? Well there goes the one good reason to buy a new Citroën…. :-(

  • avatar

    I just don’t see this working out well. The products just don’t seem that compelling and the marketplace is already crowded with vehicles that have reputations for being more reliable.

    It doesn’t help that Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Mini haven’t worked out all that well since their reintroduction into the U.S., either.

    • 0 avatar

      Wait. You think MINI hasn’t done well in N.A. for BMW??

    • 0 avatar

      Mini works pretty well. Fiat – different story. When you sit into Mini, it is like – WOW. Fiat – not so much. for the price Mini sells, I think, their profits are through the roof. Think this, for $27K you buy small 3 cyl car. For same money Chevy can sell you big 6 cyl car. Do you see the profit?

      • 0 avatar

        But, you ARE getting very good quality for your money with MINI. Can’t really say the same of FIAT or GM.

        • 0 avatar

          Not according to their reliability studies

        • 0 avatar

          I hope you’re talking of quality and not reliability. Quality -yes. Reliability – no. Although I have one quality issue with latest Minis. The seat padding is too thin. I can feel it is too hard and to prove, I can push on it with a finger and I feel the hard stuff. In my Mazda3, no matter how hard I push, I don’t feel the “end of padding”

  • avatar

    Let’s get this straight if PSA enter the US car market with their existing model range they will fail. They have the odd SUV that might do OK but nothing else. They wouldn’t be as successful as Opel is at selling cars in the US by a long way.

    PSA should start work now on the development of a Muscle car, some SUVs and a pickup. They should also consider developing a rival to the MX5. Then as soon as the merger with Vauxhall Opel completes they should switch all U.K. Car production to the manufacture of these new models and badge them all Vauxhalls. The Opel brand should continue making the cars it already manafactures and sell them as Opels in the U.K. whilst Vauxhall becomes the groups transatlantic brand.

    By doing this Vauxhall will add new sales in the US and Europe whilst Opel would retain market share for its range of bland company cars. PSA would also use up European capacity without closing factories and it would make successful in roads into the US leaving the rest of company to enter the US market and piggy back off Vauxhalls success.

    PSA needs to give the US what it wants not what it makes!

    • 0 avatar
      Johannes Dutch

      The Peugeot 3008 and 5008 are SUVs. But you might as well call them CUVs. The current models have been introduced recently.

      PSA’s “muscle car” is the 250 or 270 hp Peugeot 308 GTi, a C-segment hot hatch.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s the thing – their current model mix won’t sell, and they know it. But they bought Opel and can use it to design larger cars and CUVs/SUVs that WILL sell. That’s why they’re talking about a ten year process of re-entering the US market. By then, GM will have Chinese Buicks to sell, and the next generation Opels will be Peugeot/Citroen badged instead of Buicks.

  • avatar

    Looking at PSA lineup… I don’t think they are going to make it here

  • avatar

    Yes, because Fiat and Alfa have proven how successful failed European brands can be when they re-enter the US market.

    It’s got success written all over it.

    Taxi !

  • avatar

    The Peugeot 405 pictured looks decent for car that debuted 30 years ago. If only it were brown. It’s produced to this day under license outside of France.

    As to the appeal of European cars in the US, well, there isn’t much, and vice versa. The most popular car in the US is the Ford 150, virtually non-existent in Europe, where in 2016 the best selling cars were the VW Golf and the Renault Clio in Germany and France respectively.

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