Brand Citroen will drive PSA in India

Murali Gopalan Mumbai | Updated on February 26, 2019 Published on February 26, 2019

Carlos Tavares, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Managing Board of PSA Group.   -  Reuters

French automaker will launch its car range here by 2021

Citroen will be Groupe PSA’s brand for the Indian car market, said Carlos Tavares, Chairman of the Managing Board, on Tuesday.

This announcement was made during the course of a webcast press conference in Paris to discuss the French carmaker’s annual results for 2018.

Tavares said the building blocks were already in place for PSA in India, which included an “efficient powertrain plant and frugal vehicle plant”. The job on hand was to build the distribution network and pave the way for a new global family of “disruptive products” which will debut by 2021.

According to Tavares, Citroen as a brand epitomised consistency across time as well as in design and pricing. From PSA’s point of view, it is being positioned as the comfort brand which is both trendy and modern that will ideally strike a chord with India’s gen-next buyers.

The company has joined hands with the CK Birla Group for its automotive project which involves a powertrain facility in Hosur and a car plant in Tiruvallur near Chennai. The decision to launch the Citroen brand perhaps also has to do with burying the Peugeot legacy of over two decades earlier when the company abruptly shut down its operations in end-1997.

Ambassador come-back?

Interestingly, PSA has also acquired the rights for use of the Ambassador brand from the CK Birla Group, which stopped production of this model six years ago. It now remains to be seen if the brand will be reused with the forthcoming Citroen line-up.

Tavares had told this writer during the 2017 Geneva Motor Show that ownership of the Ambassador brand would perhaps translate into an opportunity in its India innings.

“We have to eventually see if it makes sense to the Indian customer. The Ambassador is an iconic brand and warms the hearts of people in India. If there is an opportunity where it brings value to the eyes of customers, we have the brand and can use it,” he had said.

PSA is also betting big on India to boost its presence in the Asia-Pacific region, where Japan is now its most significant market. However, India has clearly lots more to offer in terms of its sheer size and the fact that it is on its way to becoming the third largest car market globally after China and the US.

It is very likely that PSA will leverage the costing efficiencies developed in its India operations to cater to other emerging markets such as South Africa and Latin America. This will also ensure economies of scale at the Chennai facility even while the company strives to build its presence here.

Agile and efficient

Tavares reiterated at Tuesday’s press meet that it was important for PSA to remain agile and efficient in a world that was rapidly turning chaotic, an obvious reference to challenges such as Brexit, trade wars and a weakening Chinese market. By working as a team and not in silos, he was confident PSA could become more agile and adapt to a new world with different expectations.

According to Tavares, the DNA of the company was in getting things done efficiently and doing more with less. “We need to boost the creative spirit and moving forward is the only thing that matters,” he said.

Published on February 26, 2019
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