Despite a difficult run, Peugeot/Citroen boss feeling confident…
Part of the giant PSA Group, the siblings have struggled to win over Australian buyers with sales slumping 21.8% for Peugeot in 2016 and 12.7% for Citroen.
Those sales drops come with the backdrop of a solid increase in demand for compatriot brand, Renault.
At the recent launch of the new Peugeot 2008 SUV I asked Peugeot/Citroen Australia boss, Kai Bruesewitz, why have the brands struggled in recent times?
The last 12 months our focus has been on stock clearance to make plenty of room for the new vehicles that are coming to Australia this year.
Come the end of the year I am confident that we will have a vehicle for everybody in the family.
Then we have the 2008 for younger families looking for an SUV, and we will have the 3008 which will hopefully be a gamechanger for Peugeot, it is already in Europe and we hope it has the desired impact here in Australia as well.
And then we will have the 5008 – which is a 5+2, seven-seat, 20cm longer than the 3008, and not to forget the 508 as a sedan and a wagon, so you can argue that there is a vehicle for everybody and our task is to make Australian car buyers aware of that fact.
Would you say that Peugeot hasn’t been successful in shedding the ‘niche brand’ feel about it?
No, I wouldn’t say that, but as I say the last 12 months we have been focussing on the stock clearance.
If you don’t have an unlimited marketing budget you have to focus your spending, that was the priority and this has not given us enough flexibility to focus on brand building activities, in order to get the message about our desirable cars out there.
That is the task that we have to fulfil with the new models coming.
Will you be expanding your dealer network?
No, we have a pretty solid network that covers Australia and it can cover a much higher volume (than present).
Are French cars, which can often be quite quirky, generally hard to sell to Australians?
The question is how much you play that French card and I don’t have the answer there, yet.
But it certainly does open doors to audiences that you wouldn’t have access to, but that audience is too limited, so you can’t only play that card.
Not that we want to be a mass-volume brand, but obviously with the volume that we are selling at now we aren’t happy.
To increase that we need to be more open to how we approach people. So, what we’ve done in the past 12-18 months is try and adjust the messages that we’ve been given from the head office in Paris more to the Australian needs.
But also, continue to have connections with local French initiatives such as the French Film Festival last year.
Kai, what about Renault, they are finding a growing base of Australian customers, is this helping to open Australian buyers up to French cars from Peugeot/Citroen?
Renault was pretty successful in putting their brand out there and onto people’s shopping list.
They have a strong product line-up, they have the five-year warranty – which we have not yet on the full range, but remember that not all of their models are manufactured or designed in Europe, which is something that we can say for our brands.
So, when people are looking for a French car, French design and build, that’s something they will get with Peugeot.
In saying that, they’ve done a really good job in Australia and we wouldn’t mind selling the same volumes.