Citroën Returns to North America – Sort Of

At the Paris Auto Show this week Groupe PSA – which includes Peugeot, Citroën and DS, provided a bit more information as to how and when they will make a return to North America.  We first found out about the strategy earlier this year when the news was discovered buried on Page 31 of a slide deck about company strategy.

Groupe PSA chief executive Carlos Tavares stated at the show that; “All the economics objectives have been achieved, far ahead of the schedule we had announced.”  He went on to say; “We can all consider – around this table now – that PSA Group is in good shape, sound condition, profitable.”  With that announcement made he elaborated about looking to the future, and the company’s North American strategy.

carlos-tavares-in-paris-on-10-na-strategy  Groupe PSA CEO Carlos Tavares

The plan to re-enter North America calls first for partnering to offer car-sharing services as early as 2017.  After that, PSA will roll out some of its own cars into those services.  And then, finally, PSA will sell cars in North America.  Tavares called it a 10-year plan.

“If we say 10 years, and take the risk of facing criticism for that length, it’s because we recognize that the North American market is very specific in terms of business practices, in terms of customer expectations, in terms of differences between the states, in terms of distribution models.”

Rumours swirled of a return a few years ago that their first foray would be in the province of Quebec.  The day before the Paris Motor Show, PSA announced a large investment in Communauto, a Quebec-based car-sharing service operating in seven Canadian cities; Montréal, Quebec City, Sherbrooke, Gatineau, Ottawa, Kingston and Halifax.


So it would appear that the first step of Tavares’s plan is well under way.

We would wager that their first car here will be an electric vehicle.  Why?  On February 1 of this year we ran an article on the Québec Government Pledging $16M Investment with PSA.  The Government said the financing would be made available to support an innovative research and development initiative, in partnership with PSA Peugeot Citroën, Exagon Motors, Investissement Quebec and Hydro-Quebec subsidiary IndusTech.   With the entwined to the point of colluded politics of Quebec, we’d be willing to bet that Communauto get’s Quebec government business development subsidies and that PSA will use their funding as investment leverage, under some guise of green energy, to ensure that Communauto diversifies it’s fleet to include their offerings.

Which PSA brands will eventually have cars on sale in North America?  Tavares said that decision hasn’t been made.  “We want to take our time because the goal is not to announce that we are going back to the North American market,” Tavares said. “The goal is to come back and stay.”  So far they appear to be on track, albeit in a typically obscure French way.


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