While many have been celebrating Citroën’s past, CEO Linda Jackson’s head is firmly rooted in the future. Her firm is now five years into a strategy of reinvigoration, repositioning and consolidation – this plan is not only about model renewal but customer service and the buying experience.
Highlights from the first two phases have included the renewal of the C3 supermini, currently a European bestseller, and the launch of the C3 and C5 Aircrosses that now give Citroën a solid foothold in the SUV arena. The third phase will see the launch next year of a new C-segment hatchback, and a big saloon part-signalled by the CXperience concept, which Jackson says “is our inspiration”.
The product plan, she says, “is based on two key elements. One is to have a design that stands out a little bit, so it’s immediately recognisable as a Citroën, and the other is comfort. Comfort with a very modern approach, not just about suspension, not just seat technology, but also connectivity, simpler dashboards, not so much clutter, air quality, storage space, modularity.”
On the customer side, there’s now scope to rent Citroëns from your dealer, a My Citroën app to track your car and book it a service, and Maison Citroën, which introduces “much warmer, more convivial areas” to the showroom. There has been fresh marketing impetus too.
“Last year that strategy delivered 1.1 million sales worldwide and in Europe, which is the first region where we’ve implemented all of those things, it gave us an increase in sales since 2013 of 28%,” says Jackson. “That means we’re approaching the objective of getting a 5% market share in Europe. We’re well on track.” Better still, “this is a very profitable growth”.
“What we need to do now is take that recipe and install it across all the regions of the world,” Jackson adds, “and also go into new markets like India.” India will be a target not only for growth, but from 2021 the origin of “a new range of cost-efficient products which will be specifically created for international markets”. The project is called C-Cubed because it consists of “three words: cool, comfortable and clever, the last of these being about clever and fresh ways of reducing cost and showroom prices. The project is “also about clever design, and thinking about what goes into the vehicle”, she says. “Cars in Europe often have so much technology that people don’t use half of it. It’s working out what’s important for the customer.”