By on September 18, 2017

Citroen DS, Image: Wikimedia Commons

For some, including TTAC’s in-house Francophile, Chris Tonn, the wait is simply unbearable. PSA Group, maker of Citroën, Peugeot and DS cars, plans to re-enter a market it hasn’t done business in since the last Peugeot left a U.S. dealer in 1991.

It’s a slow and steady comeback for the French automaker. Steamlined, flush with products, and no longer the fiscal basket case it was earlier in the decade, PSA plans to conquer untapped and underperforming markets, including the United States. The American arrival comes by way of an extremely cautious 10-year plan. While the automaker remains hesitant to show its cards, it now admits that, if the buying public is willing, it can have cars ready for U.S. purchase in three years.

Speaking to Automotive News at the Frankfurt Motor Show, PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares said the company is developing its next-generation vehicles with America in mind. New models will be compatible with U.S. regulations.

“That means that from three years down the road we’ll be able to push the button, if we decide to do so, in terms of product compliance vis-a-vis the U.S. regulations,” Tavares said.

While an earlier-than-expected launch is possible, the company’s history of baby steps on this file seems to rule it out. The company’s starting from scratch, and it needs a distribution, sales, and servicing network in place first. Just last month, Larry Dominique, CEO of the newly created PSA North America, said, “We have a chance to do this once, and only once.”

Back in April, the automaker brought the overseas TravelCar ride-sharing program to airports in Los Angeles and San Francisco, allowing travelers to borrow a stranger’s car for less than the cost of a rental. This toehold of a presence will grow in years to come. Tavares has said in the past that PSA can’t call itself a global company unless it offers products in America.

So, we know U.S.-ready vehicles will start production in three years, but what PSA division will arrive here first? According to Tavares, the company has already made a decision, though the CEO won’t say whether the country’s first French vehicle in over a quarter century will carry a Citroën, Peugeot, or DS badge. Two years ago, we reported that PSA was mulling the premium DS brand for this role.

[Image: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)]

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29 Comments on “More Teasing From the French: Citroën and Peugeot Cars to Be Built America-ready...”

  • avatar

    My first thought was that these guys need to buy FCA…then the peyote wore off.

    • 0 avatar

      I think they missed an opportunity by not buying the Saturn marque from GM. They would’ve had an established dealer network and brand, which could’ve added a luxury arm (DS) later. They could’ve phased in their products as the GM models were wound down over the course of a few years.

      Their cars a beautiful, to me, and interesting, and I welcome their return. I’m all for more choice in the marketplace. Bring on the French and anyone else. The more, the better.

    • 0 avatar

      Dazzled by the sight of the 2 French cars in the photo, I briefly thought about a deal with FCA for PSA to sell and service cars in America through Fiat dealerships, a sort of automotive Euro-zone. Very briefly.

  • avatar

    Any American who really wants a French car can go buy one today. Yes, legally, right here in the US of A.

    Just head to your friendly local Toyota dealership and buy a Yaris hatchback. Made in France! Vive la France!

  • avatar



  • avatar

    If I can’t get a DS with hydropneumatic suspension I’m not interested.

  • avatar

    I’m sure they will be just as successful as FCA has been with the reintroduction of Fiat and Alfa to eager American consumers who want European style without all that boring German reliability and build quality.

  • avatar

    Does this really mean that they won’t have to make a monthly visit to the dealer service dept?

  • avatar

    It’s going to take an immense ad campaign; probably something kicked off at a superbowl if anybody still watches the NFL at that point, and they’re going to have to embrace every bit of Frenchiness they have in a “fetchez la vache” barrage.

  • avatar
    healthy skeptic

    If Peugeot comes back, could they sell direct?

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Oh goodie. I can’t wait to spend my money on a French car.

  • avatar

    I like the way the new 308 looks (especially the wagon) but also how the new Megane looks (granted – that’s Renault).

    A Renault 19 is the only car I’ve ever crashed (mostly cosmetic stuff, but a real crash).

  • avatar

    If PSA really is going to re-enter the US market, they’re going to need to do three things that, historically, they haven’t been particularly great at:

    1) Operate in this market without holding a view of their customers (read: Americans) that borders on contemptuousness. Note that I’m applying this broad generalisation to PSA specifically, not the dealers, and I’m not saying that this is an issue specific to the US market as I’ve seen them do it in other non-French markets. But it is a piece of history that needs to not repeat itself.

    2) Not treat their dealers like crap. In the past, this has put the dealer in the awkward position of having to be the middleman between the customer and PSA, who really weren’t treating the dealers any better (and in some ways much worse) than the customers. PSA’s attitudes weren’t just reserved for their customers, and were a significant contributing factor in their 1991 departure from the US*.

    3) Have a range of cars available, the character and qualities of which set themselves apart from the rest of the market. The French have traditionally been quite good at this, but over the last 15 or 20 years their cars have become increasingly Euro-bland. It’s harder and harder to recognise qualities of the specific nation of origin in European cars, and this is not a problem that is unique to PSA.

    We still own and drive a Peugeot on a daily basis, but we’re very much the exception in that regard – and we know that we’re not prepared to put up with their past mistakes even though we’re predisposed towards liking the types of vehicles they used to make. Then again, Peugeot doesn’t need us – a generation of absence is (almost) long enough to make the old, and in some cases deserved, prejudices towards their vehicles go away in the minds of the car-buying public.

    * Peugeot’s departure from the US in 1991 came amidst generally-positive reviews in the motoring press surrounding the 405, particularly the Mi16 model. The 605 (their larger flagship model) had been prepped and certified for the US market, and a US launch for that car was fast approaching. However, Peugeot’s we-know-better approach to dealer dissatisfaction over cars that weren’t selling well in the US market as well as parts supply issues led to a dealer cull, falling profits as nobody scrambled over themselves to sign up as a new dealer, and their subsequent withdrawal from the US market.

  • avatar

    I don’t have any favorites from PSA, but I would like to see a return of French cars in the USA. Maybe Peugeot could re-boot the 205 hatchback again?

    Regardless, more offerings would be great. I’d like to see the Euros break the Japanese hegemony on small cars.

  • avatar
    Pig Hater

    At least Renault made it back to America doing business under the Nissan marque. Mercedes is mixing technology with Renault/Nissan too. I don’t see how any French marque using their own label will make it back though? Times are getting more competitive now, especially with China on the way.

  • avatar

    Many years ago my friend’s Dad bought him a Renault Le Car. A bigger piece of s**t has never hit the highway. Buy a French car? Not in this lifetime.

  • avatar

    Both the positive and the negative feelings about French cars of the past that are being voiced here are irrelevant with regard to PSA cars of today. They are not like that anymore, both in the good and the bad sense of the meaning.

    Not wanting to buy French because of bad experience with a Renault Le Car is just as irrational as lusting after a new Peugeot 205. But you’ve all been triggered by the badly chosen image of that gorgeous Citroen DS, which has absolutely nothing in common with DS cars of today — again, both in the good and in the bad way.

    • 0 avatar

      You have to understand that people learn from mistakes. Germany has been selling cars here for a long time, they have increasingly decreased in reliability. Fiat came back after a leaving with its tail tucked between its legs. No one would call their re-entrance trouble free.

      But if PSA wants to sell me a car how about a Vauxhall VXR8?
      The rest of their lineup consists of cars that are already over-saturating our market. More choices diluting the already wide field will just result in everyone suffering poor sales.

  • avatar

    Forget it froggies
    All your brands are poison to us

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