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PSA's Citroen announces grand India plans with premium SUV Aircross

By T E Narasimhan
December 16, 2019 10:07 IST
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While the Aircross will be a CKD, the company is setting up a production capacity of 100,000 units a year, in the first phase at its Thiruvallur plant, which is a JV between PSA Groupe and the CK Birla Group, reports T E Narasimhan.

Image: The premium SUV, C5 Aircross.

European auto major Groupe PSA, which is going to kick-start its journey next year with a premium SUV, said it is working on a new platform and India will be the first market to have products emanating from it. The company is planning to launch at least one car every year on this platform.

Roland Bouchara, senior vice president–sales and marketing, India, PCA Automobiles India Pvt Ltd, said the company plans to launch its flagship premium SUV C5 Aircross in the Indian market by the second half of next year.

The product will help push the brand in India and will be pave way for future launches as well. While this product will be a CKD, the company is setting up a production capacity of 100,000 units a year, in the first phase at its Thiruvallur plant, which is a JV between PSA Groupe and the CK Birla Group.

 

The new capacity will cater to products emanating from the new platform from 2021. The vehicles will specifically cater to the Indian market.

"Most of the mainstream segments will be covered in the new platform," said Bouchara, who refused to share specific details about the new products.

The company said it is important for the company emphasise on the lifecycle model. Compared to other parts of the world, frequency of launching products will be higher in India.

Citroen is looking at one new model every year at least, from this platform for 4-5 years, starting 2021.

Speaking about company's strategy in India, Bouchara said the focus would be profitable growth, driven by good positioning -- while not chasing volumes or market share or expanding too much -- localisation (would be over 90 per cent on the new platform) and profitability of dealers.

The brand, which is in the process of signing up dealers, said that 80 per cent will be those who have been catering to other OEMs.

It is initially targeting 10 cities for the Citroen brand through smaller, highly digitised showrooms, with an aim to help its dealers to invest only 50 per cent compared to peers.

The company, which formally announced its entry into the Indian market with the Citroen brand early this year, is looking to create a seamless digital experience for prospective customers of its first model -- C5 Aircross SUV.

Citroen has lined up ATAWADAC (Any Time, Any Where, Any Device, Any Content), a seamless digital consumer experience, which will be piloted in a few markets, including India.

It will be the second innings for PSA in India. The company signed a partnership with the erstwhile Premier family for a JV, Peugeot PAL India, but pulled in 2001.

In 2017, PSA Groupe announced a partnership with CK Birla Group to re-enter the Indian market.

Europe's leading car maker, Groupe PSA, officially announced its re-entry in India this April with the Citroen brand. Citroen C5 Aircross SUV will challenge the likes of Mahindra XUV500, Tata Harrier, Hyundai Tuscon, Jeep Compass and the upcoming MG Hector.

The C5 Aircross will be the first of several differentiated products from the company's vehicle manufacturing unit in Tiruvallur, Tamil Nadu.

It will also churn out Powertrains from its PSA-AVTEC Powertrain JV at Hosur. The company has signed a MoU with Tamil Nadu to invest Rs 2,400 crore.

Photographs: Kind courtesy, Citroen

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T E Narasimhan in Chennai
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