Peugeot to widen model offensive


French car brand Peugeot will step up the launch of new models to capture more clients in its bid to boost profits and sales, its managing director said on Wednesday.

"Currently we cover 60-75 per cent of the market and our target is to cover 90 per cent," Jean-Philippe Collin, managing director since the start of the year, told Reuters in an interview at the Geneva motor show.

That means extending the range up and down and entering new niches. As part of the Horizon 2010 plan drawn up by parent group PSA Peugeot Citroen Chief Executive Christian Streiff, Europe's second-biggest volume carmaker will bring out 40 new models by 2010. Some 20 of these will be Peugeots.

One area of expansion is what the group calls 'competitive premium cars' -- those which have a price above the current range but are not all-out luxury cars.

"The idea is not to have one model that hangs above all the others," Collin said.

"That was the old idea of having a high-end model that would pull up the image of the entire range. But we are now thinking of having premium models in various market segments that pull up our presence in those segments," he said.

He declined to elaborate, but market segments could be those for multi-purpose vehicles, sports utility vehicles or crossovers, big saloon cars or small and medium-sized models.

"There is a lot of pressure on our engineering people because we are increasing the number of models but we have also shortened the development time -- some models planned for 2011/2012 have been brought forward but that means we now have to work on the new models for those years as well," he said.

Collin was previously head of purchasing at the group. His appointment was announced in November but he started his job on January 1.

"It gave me time to prepare and towards the end of the year I had held talks with some 100 people," he said.

The result was that he immediately put a new management team in place, removing the operational heads in some big countries such as France or Italy, and stripping out a management layer.

"It was well received. People expected there to be changes, there was a need for new dynamism," he said, adding that he 'had the greatest respect' for his predecessor Frederic Saint-Geours.

"One of the strong points of the brand is our product plan, and the new models for next few years have been decided on by the previous management," he said. (Reuters)
 
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