by George Dyke…..
On November 13 The New York Times featured an article titled “Peugeot Returns to U.S. to Help People Get Around, but Not With Its Cars” saying that the company is thinking smaller, rolling out a mobility app, but also bigger: The move is about the future of the car market as well as the company. You can read the full article here:
What follows is my opinion about the NYT article and the PSA mobility app:
This piece reads like a PR spoon feed by PSA where this NYT reporter got to “drink the Cool-aid”. There’s not much new in it that hasn’t already been stated in past press releases… only towards the end where they quote Larry Dominique:
Fortunately for PSA, the Peugeot, Citroën and Opel brands are long since clear from any obligation they had to any American dealers.
“Just to be very clear,” Mr. Dominique emphasized, “we have no legacy in North America. I have no dealer networks, I have no dealer contracts, I have no service contracts, I have no I.T. contracts. I literally have a green-field opportunity in North America.”
He added: “Trust me, I’ve had lots of calls from my friends and other O.E.M.s saying, ‘Larry, you have an opportunity that we can only dream of.’ They can’t tear down what they’ve already got.”
Isn’t it nice how the French can conveniently forget their legacy when they want to? PSA executives today feel the company is more obligated to US consumers owning a Peugeot bicycle or Peugeot salt & pepper shakers than if they have ever owned a Citroën, Peugeot, Opel or Vauxhall car. Yet PSA tries to hark back on the brand image of classic Citroëns at every opportunity.
They think they are pioneering in mobility apps when indeed ALL the carmakers are moving in the same direction. And beyond that, PSA will have to contend with all the youths in college dorms trying to build mobility apps integrated with better social media functions than Facebook so they can become as rich as Mark Zuckerberg.
Granted carmakers today that have stayed in North America and have maintained bricks and mortar operations do not have the “clean slate” that Larry Dominique boasts about. However, they have arguably better data, the real estate assets of (or at least most of) their locations and the means to change them into experiential marketing centres where the automobile plays a part of a lifestyle they feel will endear customers to their brand. Imagine going to an Audi, BMW or Mercedes dealer for a gym workout, food class, wardrobe, and social gatherings, as well as committing as to how you will get there and elsewhere by their means of their transportation arrangements.
And to help PSA develop their mobility app, we are supposed to pay $10 for privilege? The name is Free2Move folks! I, for one, am not paying for an app that centralizes billing of my transportation choices, here in North America or anywhere else, when I can do that free of charge already today – without PSA!