By on January 23, 2018

Peugeot, Image: Peugeot

It’s likely the vanguard of the invasion force is already on Georgia soil, probably after landing at Hartsfield-Jackson following a nice Air France flight from Aéroport de Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle. Don’t be scared, though. These people are delivering choice to new car buyers, at least once their plan is fully underway.

Groupe PSA, maker of Peugeot, Citroën, and DS vehicles, announced Tuesday that Atlanta will become home to its new North American headquarters. It’s an early but crucial step in the company’s decade-long plan to return to the American automotive scene.

The new HQ will be operational by February, the automaker claims. Already, there’s a core team laying the groundwork for the company’s cautious product strategy — one designed to gradually acclimatize Americans to French cars before actually offering them for sale.

“We looked at every aspect of the Atlanta community and found it to be the most suitable location for us,” said Larry Dominique, President of PSA North America, in a statement.

“While the overall business environment, standard of living and university system played an important part in our decision, our unique needs in terms of technology, mobility innovation and car culture ultimately identified Atlanta as our perfect choice.”

PSA first announced its plan to return to the U.S. — following a quarter-century absence — in 2016. It’s a three-phase plan, the first phase of which is already underway. PSA started out by launching its Free2Move “mobility aggregation platform” in Seattle last October. Via an app, users can search carsharing 0r bikesharing services in a particular area, then book whatever vehicle from whatever service that strikes their fancy. PSA plans to spread the service to other U.S. cities, with car rental services added this year.

Sure, it’s hardly a gleaming Citroën DS parked in your driveway, but the company’s being cautious. The second phase of the plan involves offering mobility services (carsharing) with the company’s own vehicles. While users won’t be able to buy a Peugeot, et al, they’ll be able to drive one around and imagine they’re coasting down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

The third phase of the company’s plan, naturally, is retail sales. Francophiles face a long wait, as this won’t take place until well into the coming decade. Still, the automaker is planning its next generation of vehicles to be compatible with American safety standards, so there’s no question as to the company’s seriousness.

PSA joins Mercedes-Benz USA and Porsche Cars North America in setting up its U.S. base of operations in Atlanta.

[Image: Peugeot]

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23 Comments on “French Invasion of Georgia Underway After Groupe PSA Chooses Atlanta for American HQ...”

  • avatar

    Those cars look like a collaborative project between the designer of the Kia Optima and Volvo S60.

  • avatar

    Hopefully Peugeot will be able to get their diesel’s approved for the states. Beautiful cars.

  • avatar

    Should be a good move. Triumph has been in the area since 1994.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, much better climate than Paris, year-round golf, good schools in the northern ‘burbs and housing prices that are a phenomenal bargain compared to France. What’s not to like?

  • avatar

    Renault-Nissan should develop a Le Car-based CUV and headquarter it in Atlanta.

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    The Peugeot 208 HDi was the finest car I ever leased in Europe. Unfortunately what likely appears here will be bigger, automatic and gasoline fueled and therefore be up against solidly established Hondas and Toyotas.

    We also leased a Citroën DS3 with the same drivetrain and it gave away too much usefulness for style.

  • avatar

    They have other less vanilla offerings than the ones above. The DS models are very unique and quirky, the Cactus and Berlingo Multispace would do well here, and Peugeot’s 308 and 208 hatches are a ton of fun. How many of these will make it across the shore is anyone’s guess, but it sounds like none, since they’ll all be in new product cycles by the time retail sales commence.

    • 0 avatar

      The Cactus looks cool, but cool cars don’t seem to have the best record of actually selling long term, which is why Toyota still sells the RAV4 but not the FJ Cruiser and Honda sells tons of CRVs but no more Elements.

  • avatar

    Pepe LePew is looking forward to finding love.

  • avatar

    In the 350,000 million people US market, I’m sure there are literally dozens of Americans eager to stay ahead of the mainstream crowd by trading in their Fiat 500 or Daewoo Lanos for something with a French accent, but a similarly proven brand reputation for quality.

  • avatar

    If they were smart, they would scrap their strategy. It won’t work.

    Has anybody ever used a rental car and thought “I want one of those”? No. In fact, rentals/loaners/car shares highlight exactly how bad things will work and look after you’ve owned them for a few year – or at least how you imagine they’ll work.

    The best way in would be to come to our shores with:

    – cheap fun that is priced better than the competition
    – something practical and affordable for families
    – luxury for those who have made it…or want to pretend they have.

    • 0 avatar

      Rented a 2006 Fusion back in the day and wound up buying one, albeit with manual transmission and sunroof…so there is that.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s probably the exception, and I suspect you got one in good condition.

        My typical rental experience makes me want to go all Toonces the Driving Cat on the car.

      • 0 avatar

        Your screen name reminds me of another example. My friend rented a Mazda3 (on my recommendation, his other choice was a Corolla and I said take the Mazda lol), the first generation when they first came out. He loved it (as did I, and I rented one later by choice remembering how much I liked it). Less than a year later, he had a Mazda3, his girlfriend had a Mazda6, and my cousin (a mutual friend) also had a Mazda3 on his and my recommendation (she still has it, although she also has a newer Yukon that she drives more often than not these days).

        To be fair, this was when gas prices were soaring, but the 3 surprised all of us in that an economy car could be so fun to drive. Even a rental-spec economy car.

  • avatar

    Back in the day I was a big fan of the Fuego. Sue me.

  • avatar

    It will be interesting to see their strategy. They don’t strike me as a very upscale brand, don’t really have any economies of scale to start, and don’t have many cuvs. Maybe they could team up with tesla and lose money together.

  • avatar

    Why bother?

    Honestly, what the heck do the French cars offer that you can’t already buy in the USA? I can’t think of anything.

    Living in Germany for 5 years, i have driven a decent handful of various French automobiles. They’re “fine”. But had no real outstanding quality other than they seemed to offer a lot of “stuff” for cheap prices.

    I don’t think that is a recipe for success in re-launching in the USA. We already have enough established companies that can offer “stuff” for cheap (cough…Nissan….cough).

    Pointless waste of time and money. No unique selling points.

    • 0 avatar

      “Honestly, what the heck do the French cars offer that you can’t already buy in the USA? ”

      Viewed individually, what do Toyota, Chevy, Ford, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai or Kia offer that you can’t get elsewhere? Doesn’t seem to be keeping any of them from selling vehicles at a decent rate. Well, maybe Hyundai.

      Their cars are already far more beautiful (and/or interesting) than any Nissan, that alone gives them a leg up IMO.

      • 0 avatar

        > Viewed individually, what do Toyota, Chevy, Ford, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai or Kia offer that you can’t get elsewhere?

        Toyota – stellar reliability
        Chevy – Corvettes; an affordable, available long-range EV
        Ford – keyless entry. *Real* keyless entry, not just a remote-control key fob
        Honda – a mastery of FWD handling finesse, with excellent manual shifters and steering feel
        Hyundai/Kia – long warranties, good value at each price point

        I can’t think of any unique selling points for Nissan.

        • 0 avatar

          re: Nissan. VERY aggressive pricing of their most popular models, along with some extremely high mpg ratings. Of course, from what I’ve seen that also comes at the expense of quality. Let’s remember Nissan was Renaults answer to the question of how to compete in the American market.

          re: Ford. let’s not forget the most successful product offered by anyone, anywhere, in the history of the auto biz (the F-Series PU).

  • avatar

    Make no mistake about it, this is not a French invasion, but a Chinese invasion masquerading as a PSA comeback. It’s likely that behind the curtain, we’d find the Chinese automaker and PSA part-owner Dongfeng pulling the strings.

  • avatar

    I, for one, welcome them and wish them well.

    Hope they bring over some unique products and their very nice looking luxury cars (DS).

  • avatar

    Here we go again! I don’t think these folks understand the deep contempt Americans collectively have for French cars. I think its safe to say that most folks would choose even a FIAT over a French “insert brand here.”

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