For some, including TTAC’s in-house Francophile, Chris Tonn, the wait is simply unbearable. PSA Group, maker of Citroën, Peugeot and DS cars, plans to re-enter a market it hasn’t done business in since the last Peugeot left a U.S. dealer in 1991.
It’s a slow and steady comeback for the French automaker. Steamlined, flush with products, and no longer the fiscal basket case it was earlier in the decade, PSA plans to conquer untapped and underperforming markets, including the United States. The American arrival comes by way of an extremely cautious 10-year plan. While the automaker remains hesitant to show its cards, it now admits that, if the buying public is willing, it can have cars ready for U.S. purchase in three years.
Speaking to Automotive News at the Frankfurt Motor Show, PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares said the company is developing its next-generation vehicles with America in mind. New models will be compatible with U.S. regulations.
“That means that from three years down the road we’ll be able to push the button, if we decide to do so, in terms of product compliance vis-a-vis the U.S. regulations,” Tavares said.
While an earlier-than-expected launch is possible, the company’s history of baby steps on this file seems to rule it out. The company’s starting from scratch, and it needs a distribution, sales, and servicing network in place first. Just last month, Larry Dominique, CEO of the newly created PSA North America, said, “We have a chance to do this once, and only once.”
Back in April, the automaker brought the overseas TravelCar ride-sharing program to airports in Los Angeles and San Francisco, allowing travelers to borrow a stranger’s car for less than the cost of a rental. This toehold of a presence will grow in years to come. Tavares has said in the past that PSA can’t call itself a global company unless it offers products in America.
So, we know U.S.-ready vehicles will start production in three years, but what PSA division will arrive here first? According to Tavares, the company has already made a decision, though the CEO won’t say whether the country’s first French vehicle in over a quarter century will carry a Citroën, Peugeot, or DS badge. Two years ago, we reported that PSA was mulling the premium DS brand for this role.