Citroën has returned to South Africa following an almost three-year absence.
Known for its unconventional styling, Citroën makes a comeback to South Africa as part of French parent company, Groupe PSA, reclaiming ownership of its brand in South Africa.
In 2017, the car maker sold 51% of its shares in Peugeot Citroën South Africa (PCSA) to Japanese vehicle distributor and retailer VT Holdings, in a deal that focused on the Peugeot brand – and which proved almost fatal to the French marquee in the domestic market.
Newly appointed PCSA MD Xavier Gobille says the return of Citroën is part of strategy to improve the company’s profitability, with the belief that all four PSA brands – Opel, Peugeot, Citroën and DS – are required to build a sustainable business in South Africa.
“Scale is important. We can launch Citroën, but leverage the same infrastructure we use for Peugeot. It makes our reach wider, and the network more cost effective and competitive.
“By launching Citroën, and with little investment, we can double our reach as a company. I’m not adding costs, but I’m adding customers.
“We can have four brands that share the human resources, finance and distribution functions, for example.”
Gobille believes Citroën and Peugeot will attract two different types of customers, with the more premium Peugeot aimed at the individualist, while the decidedly non-mainstream Citroën aims to provide driving comfort to go-getters and family orientated people.
Price will not be the differentiator, emphasises Gobille.
“In Europe the four PSA brands have an 18% market share – in South Africa this is less than 1%. This means there is lots of room to grow,” adds Gobille.
He says Citroën and Peugeot showrooms will be separated in South Africa, as will the sales force.
“Customers will feel that Peugeot is a different brand, that Citroën is a different brand.”
Gobille hopes to have 14 Citroën dealers by the end of the year, with 35 outlets by the end of 2020.
However, he aims to use the reach PCSA’s 25 Peugeot dealers provide, with Citroën owners able to service their vehicles at Peugeot dealers. Prospective Citroën customers can also order a car from a Peugeot dealer.
Citroën launched into South Africa with three models – the C3 hatchback, C3 Aircross sports-utility vehicle (SUV) and C5 Aircross SUV.
The lowest price point is the C3 60 kW manual model, at R239 900.
Gobille believes the three models will play in what is a yearly new-vehicle market of around 200 000 units a year in South Africa.
All Citroën models in South Africa are sold with a 5-year/100 000 km warranty and service plan.