The combination of Citroën, DS, Opel, Peugeot and Vauxhall will make the firm the second largest car maker in Europe after the Volkswagen Group, and Neumann believes that scale will be critical in a period of massive change for the car industry.
“There is enormous change, and we need to address it, that much has always been clear,” he said. “This deal is just the beginning, and it gives us the scale to set out priorities and course.
“Of course, there is too much capacity - for us and many of Europe’s car makers. But our objective is clear - to grow and fill the capacity; that is what winners will do, and it is the losers who will have to close factories. We want to be winners.
“There is nervousness everywhere now - Germany, France, Great Britain, Spain, wherever we have a plant - but the absolutely clearest message is that the only way to keep open is to be successful. We have to take our destiny in our own hands, but at least we are doing that within the framework of a stronger-set up. If we achieve that then there won’t be any problems.”
Neumann expects there to be a period of six months now while a group of senior managers set up in the wake of the sale set out a clear business strategy for the new business. Once that is done, and the sale formally agreed and approved by authorities, he then expects the company to be in a position to make quick decisions.
“PSA has already turned itself around and is the most profitable mass-market brand out there,” he said. “Through the Crossland X and Grandland X I can see what they have achieved, and the economies of scale they can offer. We are complimentary brands that don’t really compete in the same markets. The opportunities for us are obvious.
“There are no guarantees - we don’t live in a world of guarantees. But I can see opportunities that weren’t there before.”