French Invasion of Georgia Underway After Groupe PSA Chooses Atlanta for American HQ
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.
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