The PSA Group has been openly exploring an entry into the North American market for years – and it seems the time is now. As part of the group’s bold ‘Push to Path’ strategic plan, chairman Carlos Tavares confirmed the firm’s various brands would be expanding into new markets: Peugeot into North America, Citroën to India and Opel to Russia.
The boldest move is that North American one. Peugeot hasn’t been present in the USA since 1991, when it withdrew after 33 years due to dwindling sales. But given PSA and Peugeot’s desire for growth, the market – one of the biggest in the world – represents a huge opportunity.
Clearly, it makes sense for PSA to focus its North American efforts on a single brand, and Peugeot has more heritage there than any other PSA marque. Tavares said: “We believe bringing the brand that three times won the Indianapolis 500 is the right thing to do.”
Three Indy 500 wins is, indeed, a fine achievement, although it’s worth noting the last of those came when Howdy Wilcox triumphed in 1919, the first time the event ran following the First World War. Not exactly a result likely to resonate with current US car buyers.
Resonating with US buyers will be Peugeot’s biggest challenge, especially given the market there is dominated by large SUVs and large pick-ups such as the Ford F-150. It’s a market rapidly moving away from traditional cars, with the likes of Ford deciding to can all of its saloon models. There’s a focus on rugged, no-nonsense, bold vehicles that contrasts sharply with Peugeot’s design-led French flair.