Plans unchanged at Citroën, despite GM acquisition, says brand CEO
Citroën is not altering its position within the PSA Group following the Vauxhall/Opel acquisition earlier this year, according to CEO Linda Jackson, explaining that additional volume would come from a wider product range and improving residual values and finance offers against the German brands.
The comments come as the brand unveiled a refreshed version of the C4 Cactus this week, repositioned to fill the role of the C4 hatchback which is being discontinued at the end of the year. As well as toned down styling, the updates include Citroën’s sophisticated new Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension and premium seating, plus extra refinement using acoustic glass and additional sound insulation.
It’s a change of message compared to launch versions, which had been marketed on best-in-class ownership costs, moving the car into the core of the C-segment and leaving the compact SUV class to the new C3 Aircross.
But Jackson said premium upgrades for the C4 Cactus isn’t part of a wider repositioning of the brand: “Citroen is part of the mainstream, and we are not moving. Vauxhall/Opel is creating its own plan, but it won’t affect Citroen. We will remain at the heart of the mainstream and concentrate on two things; design – we will be different in the market as that’s where we need to be – and comfort will be another factor.
“Opel won’t affect any brands in the [PSA Group]. We’ve researched, and they are a completely different customer base, and we don’t believe there’s any cannibalisation within the brands, but each will need a strong positioning in terms of assets.”
The C4 Cactus is part of an ongoing range refresh, which will focus the range on eight “core silhouettes”, Jackson added, not including commercial vehicles or “co-operations” such as the C1, which is developed with Toyota. This will include a large saloon car in 2020, previewed by the C-Xperience concept, as well as a line-up of SUVs – the C5 Aircross arrives in Europe late next year.
But extending its sales in the UK goes beyond having the right products. Citroën is protecting residual values by benchmarking material quality and fit and finish against German rivals, as well as avoiding high-discount deals which curb demand for used vehicles.
“We’re seeing significant improvements in residual values for our new vehicles, which enables us to compete with the German brands,” she said. “It’s a whole range of things; quality build, quality conception, and how you come to market – distressful, big discounts or flooding the market with loads of cars just destroys your residual values. It’s about balancing those, and it takes years to do it.”