One of the first strategy announcements from the newly formed Stellantis (the merger of Groupe PSA and Fiat Chrysler Automoibles) came on Thursday as Citroën India Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Roland Bouchara, told reporters in a virtual conference, that the brand intends to be among the top players in India in the medium to long term, taking advantage of the evolution of the passenger vehicles market in the country, currently dominated by Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai.
He said that the country will start to grow again, after recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, and be on track “to achieve in the next 4-5 year TIV (total industry volume) of 5 million” making it among the top five markets of the world.
“India is a tough market because two major players are representing approximately 65 percent of the market for quite a long time,” said Bouchara. Currently, Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai have about 65 percent market share in India and have for some time, with many other brands competing for the remaining market share for more than 10-15, years yet achieving only 2-3 percent.
“The dominance of the two companies is based on the fact that the hatchback segment is representing probably 50 per cent of the market at this stage, and Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai represent around 80 per cent of the segment”, he added.
However, Bouchara said,”I believe the segments will evolve as well. If you consider last year, the SUV market is representing 25 per cent of the market which was not the case five years ago.”
“We believe that with this kind of segment evolution, we believe with our portfolio of products, we will be one of the major players,” he said when asked about Citroën’s ambition in India in the medium to long term, exuding confidence that the brand will do well.
Despite being a late comer to the Indian market, where many other major newcomer auto brands, including General Motors and Honda, have struggled, Bouchara said, “There are not so many OEMS, who came to India with new platform, meaning not one model but a new platform with many models. With this platform (C-Cubed) we will launch one model every year for several years commencing with the C5 Aircross SUV in Q1 2021.”
Also, he said the company has focussed on high localization unlike some of the other OEMs that entered India, by locally producing key parts such as powertrain and gearbox to have cost advantage.
The disclosure came as part of the launch of its global “La Maison Citroën” (Home of Citroën), retail network in India. “Our Ahmedabad showroom pilot is an important milestone for Citroën India as we gear up towards the launch of our first car. The showroom will have numerous screens, debuting the ATAWADAC (AnyTime AnyWhere AnyDevice AnyContent) and phygital (physical as well as digital) ecosystems, allowing customers to explore and sample the Citroën brand, products and services seamlessly,” he added.
To start with, the company will have such showrooms in 10 main cities in India, including Delhi, Gurugram, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Chennai, and gradually expand as it goes along.
Citroën had first unveiled the ‘La Maison Citroën’ concept in Paris in 2017, aimed at making the car buying experience engaging and digitally immersive. It is now present in over 100 locations worldwide.