The plan for the French car giant to return to the US was revealed as part of the ‘Push to Pass’ strategy laid out by company boss Carlos Tavares, who described it as “a very significant decision for us”.
Citroën exited the American market in 1974, while Peugeot pulled out in 1991. However, the company has had a corporate presence there up until just three years ago.
PSA is plotting a three-stage comeback which will start in 2017, when it will enter the North American market as a “mobility provider” - essentially providing car-sharing schemes - albeit not necessarily with Peugeot, Citroën or DS products.
It is considering a collaboration with Bolloré Group, an existing strategic partner. The two companies already build a Bolloré-badged electric car at the PSA plant in Rennes, and it is likely that a similar model would be used to reintroduce PSA to North American and enable it to conduct customer research.
“This is a way for us to understand the customers, the stakeholders, the regulations, to ensure we completely feel the pulse of that big market,” said Tavares.
The second phase of the North American return would be to introduce PSA Group vehicles into the car-sharing schemes.
“If we are successful as a mobility operator, from there we will have the opportunity to put in our own fleets of cars, as soon as they are compliant with US regulations. Of course those fleets will remain under our control, as is normal in car-sharing activities. We will be able to ensure that our own cars are meeting the expectations of the local consumers,” explained Tavares.
“That’s the second step and eventually, if we are successful, if our products in our fleets are well appreciated by consumers, we will go to the third step, which is to sell our own brands’ products in North America, eventually with local sourcing."
Tavares didn’t divulge long-term sales expectations for the PSA Group in North America, but said: “We will return to North America because we believe this is a place where we can make significant profit for PSA.
“This is a very thoughtful, progressive approach with a long-term perspective. We are doing this for the future generations of the company, starting from a very simple point, which is that if you want to be profitable and sustainable, you ought to do business in the three major markets in the world.
It is thought that the upmarket DS brand will lead the firm's relaunch in the USA, because its qualities as the only upmarket French car maker give it an opportunity to stand out in a market dominated by premium German brands.