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French Cars Are Coming To America Quicker Than Expected

Industry News / 27 Comments

And Peugeot's bringing part of its European lineup along with it.

Peugeot has been plotting its return to the North American market for a while now. But while we were initially expecting it would take until 2026 to see the French cars on American roads, the latest word has it that the PSA group's core brand has moved up its timeline to 2023 – just four years from now.

The group's chief executive Carlos Tavares revealed the news over the weekend to the Wall Street Journal, confirming not only an accelerated timeline but some interesting elements of its strategy – including its model lineup and retail strategy.

For starters, while the general operating assumption has been that PSA would develop new models for the North American market, the CEO says its US lineup will be based on its current European offerings. "What we can bring to the US is based on everything you see today," said Tavares. The Lion marque sells an array of hatchbacks, sedans, wagons, crossovers, and vans, but sadly discontinued its stylish RCZ coupe a few years ago.

Rather than start (as FCA did in relaunching the Fiat and Alfa Romeo marques in America) with a small lineup, Peugeot aims to offer a wide array of vehicles.

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"Otherwise, we won't be visible," said Tavares, who took over as chief executive in 2015 after serving as one of embattled Renault chief Carlos Ghosn's top lieutenants. Those are tipped to include electrified vehicles, including crossovers and more conventional passenger cars – something from which American automakers have been moving away.

The company is also reportedly pursuing an alternative retail strategy that will do away with traditional dealership franchises in favor of an online-based model. It will still need to figure out a way of letting prospective customers get up close and personal with Peugeot's vehicles before buying, though.

Expect some sort of showrooms to pop up, similar to Tesla Stores or the Polestar Spaces being set up by the Volvo offshoot.

Peugeot first started selling cars in America in 1958 and last withdrew in 1991. It acquired rival automaker Citroën in the 1970s, spun off the DS brand in 2015, and bought the bulk of GM's European operations (including the Opel and Vauxhall brands) in 2017. The staff it brought on board through that acquisition, many of whom had rotated through the US under GM's umbrella, could prove the key to breaking back into the North American market.