Peugeot Refuses To Abandon Its American Dreams

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The latest on the French brand's US market return plans.

The last time a new Peugeot was sold in the US was way back in 1991. Despite this nearly three-decade period of time, the French automaker still intends to return to America. We first learned of its intention to re-enter the US market by the middle of this decade, but that was before the announcement of the planned FCA-PSA 50-50 merger. As that merger remains on hold due to unresolved European Union regulatory issues, what are Peugeot's current plans? Does it need a new one or, perhaps, modify the existing proposal?

The Detroit Bureau reports Groupe PSA is still aiming to get Peugeot back in North America by 2023 despite new challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic. PSA North America chief Larry Dominique confirmed the news at a recent online summit.

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The original three-stage plan initiated back in 2016 still stands: first, mobility services followed by mobility services with Groupe PSA's vehicles and, ultimately, retail sales. As that 2023 target year is fast approaching, the retail infrastructure stage is now underway. Just one major problem: the coronavirus pandemic. New vehicle sales are already down and Peugeot needs to set up a national retail network. Plus, consumers are proving to prefer online sales instead of the traditional dealership model. What to do?

Dominique said Peugeot will still have franchised dealerships but it also knows online business will be huge. "To this day we're still building huge dealerships costing tens of millions of dollars exacerbating the very fixed cost absorption model existing today," Dominique said.

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The good news is that Dominique and his team are paying close attention to new buying trends where "consumers are looking for a simpler, more efficient process, our retail structure defaults to spending money on fountains and Taj Mahals - a good example of disconnect or lack of reality if you ask me." Unfortunately, Dominique did not specify which models the company intends to sell in the US. For example, the Peugeot 3008 crossover could work well as a competitor to the likes of the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and Ford Escape.

However, PSA previously hinted it'd prefer to develop unique vehicles for the US but again, no specifics are available yet.

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Source Credits: The Detroit Bureau

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