French automobile maker PSA Group will pull out the DS cars from the Citroen showrooms as the company is focusing on building a smaller and distinct sales network in an all-out effort to revive the fledgling premium brand’s sliding sales, a senior executive said.
DS sales are expected to drop for the fifth straight year before reversing the drop in 2018, Chief of DS brand Yves Bonnefont said.
“Transitions are never comfortable,” he said in an interview at the Paris headquarters of the group. “We see volumes continuing to weaken in 2017.”
Starting in 2018, however, numbers will be boosted by the rollout of the sales network and the launch of new vehicles, Bonnefont said.
The popular compact DS3 was introduced in 2010 as a sub-brand of Citroen. With a hint of the 1955 DS limousine, evocative of General Charles de Gaulle and Nouvelle Vague cinema, the marque ushered in two years of growth right from the beginning.
European DS models had dropped the Citroen insignia in 2015.
Global sales of the car have fallen steadily from the peak sales of 129,000 vehicles in 2012. Last year the sales slid further by 16 percent to 86,000. In China, where DS and Citroen cars are marketed separately from the outset, sales of the cars fell by 25 percent last year to about 16,000.
With a new mid-sized SUV to be unveiled in the coming months, DS is betting on the popular crossover SUV category to revive the prospects of it as an aspiring luxury marque. PSA will use another DS for its first rechargeable hybrid car in 2019.
In Europe, Bonnefont said, the number of exclusive DS showrooms will increase from 111 today to 500 by mid-2018, when the marque will disappear completely from the Citroen’s sales network of 5,000 outlets.
Although many of the new DS showrooms will be positioned adjoining the existing Citroen dealerships, the new network will have dedicated sales staff, distinct spaces and decor schemes. PSA is effectively betting on the idea that sales will be better through a more exclusive network, even on a much smaller scale.
“When you bring the products together in an environment that offers a unique experience of a brand to the customers, we’ve seen that the sales increase,” Bonnefont said.