Vincent Cobée became CEO of Citroën earlier this year, taking over from Brit Linda Jackson. We talk to the Frenchman about his plans for the brand.
What’s your longer-term sales target globally?
“I don’t have a crystal ball about how and when we will come out of this particular crisis, so no forecast from me for this year or even 2021.
“By 2025/26, I would say [we can sell] one million cars in Europe if the market remains above 16 million overall. Globally, we’re aiming for 1.5 million, so Europe would make up two-thirds. “By that time, we will bring to bear all the products we’ve prepared, which should give us that potential. But it’s very likely the market situation will be heavily shaken [given recent events].”
When will services other than selling cars make up a large part of your business?
“The new business model of ride-hailing and car-sharing is much less than 1% of our business.
“For Ami, my assumption is that cash sales will make up a quarter, lease might be 60% or 70% and shared ownership might be 10%.
“Tomorrow, will that remain the same in the new balance of health and individual protection versus public transport? Maybe not. I can perfectly imagine that in the not-too-distant future, people will look for individual transportation in cities.”
Is Citroën’s model line-up the right size?
“The past 15 years have been complex. Car makers had A, B and C-segment hatches, C, D and E-segment saloons and a sports coupé. Then came SUVs, and every car maker in Europe had to manage a dual line-up with SUV parallels.
“Some ended up with 13 body types when they had six before. Add increasing powertrain costs, the complexity of managing CO2 and profitability pressure with intense competitiveness, and everybody is looking for rationalisation.
“Most car makers should be able to stabilise between five and 10 cars. If you’re below five, you’re starting to struggle in terms of offering continuity. You will be continuously quiet, you’re not at the forefront of buyers’ minds. If you have more than eight, it starts to become hard to manage development, regulations, demonstration and launches.
“As far as Citroën is concerned, the ideal situation is that we have six or seven global silhouettes and five are present in most countries. We aren’t far off.”
Can the C1 city car live for another generation?
“The C1 is a very competitive and appropriate car in the segment, but the segment is subject to a number of challenges: obviously the regulatory one, plus basic equipment requirements and tougher emissions standards, all of which drive the costs up. This segment is extremely price-sensitive.