Citroen takes on light commercial focus
C4 Picasso, C4 gone as Citroen readies for LCV onslaught in Australia
THE newly formed distributor, Peugeot Citroen Australia, has announced that Citroen will be the company’s light-commercial vehicle brand Down Under, as part of a more focused line-up that will continue to include passenger cars and SUVs.
The confirmation follows GoAuto’s previous report stating that Citroen would become the go-to brand under the PSA Group umbrella for light-commercial vehicles, with Peugeot stepping further upmarket.
Under previous distributor Sime Darby Motors Group, Citroen sold the Berlingo small delivery van and previous-generation Dispatch mid-sizer, while Peugeot also sold the Berlingo’s twin the Partner and the Dispatch’s sibling, the Expert.
Speaking at the Peugeot brand relaunch event this week, Inchcape Australasia chief executive Nick Senior confirmed the renewed focus on LCVs for Citroen.
“There’s going to be a huge ramp up of the focus on light-commercial vehicles,” he said in the NSW Hunter Valley. “For this is a hugely untapped market, hugely untapped. But rather than confusing buyers, all light-commercial vehicles will be marketed under the Citroen nameplate.”
Mr Senior also confirmed that the new distributor would push further into the fleet market with its LCV line-up than it had under previous importers.
“To support the increased focus on LCVs you will also see us play much more aggressively in the fleet, government, corporate, rental space. Indeed last week we signed a seventy-car deal with a rental company. There are other deals in the pipeline.”
Mr Senior said the company decided to offer LCVs through Citroen rather than Peugeot to help even up the sales ledger between the two French brands.
“Citroen we see as an opportunity in terms of funkiness and a younger audience for the passenger cars and you see that with C3 and Cactus etcetera. In terms of why we’ve chosen to put LCVs with Citroen, at the moment sales are roughly four to one (Peugeot vs Citroen).
“In terms to grow both brands, it is better to put light commercials (under Citroen) so we can start moving towards hopefully more equilibrium.”
Citroen currently offers the Berlingo in Australia, which has been the brand’s best-selling model each year since 2014.
It competes with the top-selling Volkswagen Caddy, the Renault Kangoo, Fiat Doblo and Suzuki APV in Australia’s sub-2.5 tonne van segment.
Mr Senior confirmed that there was a new Berlingo coming soon, but it is likely the new-generation Dispatch will hit Australian shores before it.
The Dispatch is based on the EMP2 platform and is part of a model sharing agreement between PSA Group and Toyota, which sells it as a ProAce.
In Australia it will take the UK-centric Dispatch moniker as opposed to the European-market Jumpy name.
Another LCV being eyed for the Australian market is the large-size Citroen Relay van, but it is not confirmed as yet.
Sold in Europe, the current-gen Relay is based on the Fiat Ducato, but it is unclear if the Australian operation is looking at that version or a next-generation model.
On top of its LCV focus, Citroen will continue to offer passenger cars and SUVs, with the company recently offering the automatic version of the petrol-powered C4 Cactus crossover.
The new-gen C3 light hatch is locked in for an October launch in Australia, while the jacked-up version – dubbed the C3 Aircross – is likely to arrive sometime next year.
As part of the model review, the five-seat C4 Picasso tall-boy hatch that was launched in early 2015 priced from $40,990 plus on-roads, has been dropped from the line-up, while the related seven-seat Grand C4 Picasso remains on sale.
The C4 hatchback has also disappeared from the consumer website and the C5 mid-sizer was discontinued in Australia mid last year.
As reported, the brand’s DS models have also been put on hold in Australia while the distributor determines an appropriate strategy for offering the cars here.