Peugeot’s aggressive dash for sales outside Western Europe depends squarely on the success of its new middleweight Peugeot 301 saloon, according to its new brand CEO, 38-year-old Maxime Picat, who replaced the previous incumbent Vincent Rambaud in the autumn.

Loss-making Peugeot, heavily criticised in France for being too parochial, achieved only 30 per cent sales in non-Western countries in 2010. But the figure rose to 42 per cent in 2011, largely because of the contribution of its Chinese joint venture with DongFeng Motor — led at the time by Picat, a fluent Cantonese speaker.

With Picat now running the whole company, Peugeot’s target for sales outside the West is 50 per cent by 2015, and 60 per cent by 2020. The 301, a big-booted 4.4metre long saloon based on a lengthened and widened 208 platform, will lead the expansion into Turkey, Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, Ukraine, the Middle East and some Latin American markets. Then, in a second phase, the car will be launched and later manufactured in China.

The new model’s four-door design is crucial to non-Western sales, Maxime Picat claims. Whereas in Europe only two per cent of new cars in this size class are saloons, they account for 74 per cent in the Middle East, 64 per cent in Asia and 50 per cent in both Eastern Europe and Africa, and the trend shows no sign of declining.