Currently reading: Inside the industry: Citroen's new boss on the brand's future
Vincent Cobée has been Citroën boss for 20 months, during one of the industry's most turbulent periods
Jim Holder
News
2 mins read
27 September 2021

Vincent Cobee is the current boss of Citroën, a former head of Mitsubishi and Datsun and has thus far enjoyed the sort of career that even other people’s parents would have to describe as stellar, earning academic and business accolades at every step.

Maybe more crucially, the 52-year-old Frenchman is something of a philosopher, with a keen sense of winning over his audience, his charm extending to ordering fish-and-chips and quoting key lines from Autocar articles on a recent visit to the UK.

Despite taking the top job in January 2020, and thereby facing a baptism that perhaps only wartime eras could rival, Cobée has commanding views on everything from today’s struggles to tomorrow’s potential disruptions. In his certainty, he’s very much like his boss, Carlos Tavares.

On Citroën’s purpose he is clear – or, to take a word he uses often himself, militant: “I don’t believe in the race to add more equipment, to add more range, to add ultimately more weight. I want us to build cars with courage that suit a need and have a focus on continuing to provide the freedom of mobility, and that includes accessibility of price.”

While talk of the eye-catching Ami dominates, he’s at pains to describe it as “just one expression of Citroën.” The philosophy it expresses is core: “Mobility gives you life, yet we’re entering a world where it will be restricted. The cost of transport is going to become a restraint. We see that asan innovation trigger. Not quirky and occasionally successful. We must bring solutions to real problems.”

The new C5X, at once an SUV, saloon and estate, is an example of this philosophy. “We don’t feel any obligation to repeat what we’ve done in the past,” explains Cobée. “Some industry colleagues are on generation eight of the same car; we prefer to evolve with the situationwe find ourselves in. The C5X is flowing, elegant and fluid, not a bulky SUV.”

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Another is the New C3, a supermini for emerging markets that embodies the stylish frugalism that’s set to be a Citroën hallmark. “We’re facing many more months of crisis: economic crisis, national debt, global upheaval, resource shortage, inflation, political instability and environmental,” says Cobée. “The answer is individual clean mobility that’s affordable. An £80,000 electric city car? It’s clean but not affordable.”

Of all the brands, Citroën has perhaps the greatest bandwidth to innovate. What his predecessors set in motion Cobée has the confidence to accelerate. It’s refreshing and exciting – but the big question is whether enough car buyers are ready to follow such a profoundly logical path.

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Bishop 27 September 2021

The man uses so many words and yet says little of any real meaning, or that's revealing.  I guess he's saying that Citroens will offer value (be at the lower end of price ranges in their class) and not to expect lots of continuity ... which usual spells trouble in terms of sales.  I expect the C5X to flop badly ...  

Overall, I don't see Citroen as being a priority in Stellantis's portfolio of brands. 

Bimfan 27 September 2021

Citroen have a rich history of making quirky affordable cars, so that's a great place to move forward from. They just need to make them reliable and buld them better. 

sabre 27 September 2021

Regarding mobility, too many Citroen owners mobilized themselves to the workshop for repairs. Citroen employees should be instructed by Mr. Cobee to put less effort at work in cuvee and more in reliability of the cars they make.