DS’s future strategy will not change despite dramatic sales declines around the world in 2017, according to PSA Group boss Carlos Tavares.
Last year, DS — the French firm’s answer to the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz — recorded a fall in sales in every region bar one, resulting in an overall 38.5% decrease from 85,981 cars in 2016 to 52,860 in 2017.
The declines were greatest in the China and south-east Asia region, where sales fell 63.1%. Meanwhile, sales dropped 45.2% in the India and Pacific, 34.1% in Europe, 20.8% in Eurasia and 9.6% in the Middle East and Africa.
Only Latin America grew in sales, by 21.6%, but that market accounted for just 1304 unit sales.
However, Tavares insisted that the declines were largely a result of the decision by PSA — which is made up of Citroën, DS, Opel, Peugeot and Vauxhall — to cut back dramatically on discounting and bulk sales as it attempts to strengthen DS's residual values and build a more premium brand image.
“This is a 30-year project, and we still have 28 of those years left in which to achieve our goals,” he said. “Creating an automotive brand built around the concept of French luxury will take time and requires consistency of direction that we are still building.
“2017 was about getting our pricing power to the right place; putting the foundations in for the residual values that help define a premium brand. We have the pricing power going where we want it now and the new product to support the strategy is coming.”
Tavares highlighted the initial sales popularity of the new 7 Crossback as an example of the progress DS is making.
He continued: “Last year, the average age of the cars we were selling was between five and six years. With the DS 7, we are starting a new life. It is the first DS car engineering from scratch to be a premium car; it features great technology, interior quality, external design and more.
“The quality of the product sells the car. Deliveries of DS 7 are exactly what we expected; nearly 4000 cars in the first few weeks. Our retailers and sales people are excited, and this is just the starting point.
“Yes, last year was disappointing in sales terms, but it has put us in a better place to deliver the long-term strategy. We are at the start of a journey and we will launch a new model every year to build the brand. With consistency will come success.”