Citroën must grow its international footprint to insulate itself from regional sales trends, CEO Linda Jackson has said in the wake of sales falling 47.3% in China in 2017.
Around the peak of the 2012 European car sales crisis in Europe, Citroën became increasingly reliant on Chinese sales, launching bespoke cars for the country as it sought to take advantage of the rapidly growing market.
However, last year Citroën's sales plummeted, in line with those of most mainstream manufacturers, as demand switched from being saloon-led to SUV-led, and many Chinese manufacturers launched high-quality SUVs for lower prices.
As a result, Citroën launched the new C5 Aircross SUV in China first, and restructured its dealership network, taking it from 450 outlets to 390. Since these changes in July, its sales have risen markedly and market share grown 0.3%.
“A few years ago the strength of China helped offset Europe, but we are fortunate that as China has slowed down so Europe has risen again,” said Jackson. “It highlights that we need to become more international and bring balance to our portfolio. Today, 27% of our sales are outside Europe, by 2020 I want it to be 30% and I want to grow the figure to around 45% in the longer-term.”
Jackson highlighted Iran and Latin American as countries offer the greatest short-term opportunities for long-term growth.