DS just isn’t French enough yet, is it?

It’s been four years since Citroën spun off DS as its own brand and DS still isn’t anywhere near the kind of sales that the German establishment has reached. In 2017, DS sold 9082 cars in the UK. By comparison, Audi and BMW sold around 175,000 each, Mercedes-Benz sold roughly 181,000, while Jaguar and Land Rover accounted for about 118,000.

The problem, as I see it, is that DS is too German in its approach. The brand currently produces a small hatch that rivals the Mini and Audi A1 (DS 3); a mid-sized hatch that has its sights set on the Audi A3, Mercedes-Benz A-Class and BMW 1 Series (DS 4); a Mercedes GLC-sized SUV that also competes against the Audi Q5 and BMW X3 (DS 7 Crossback); as well as a large hatch (DS 5). There are plans for a saloon that's sized in line with the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class.

So that leaves one car, the DS 5, without a direct rival from at least two-thirds of the German competition, despite all of DS’s efforts to inject its cars into prominent places in French culture.

With France’s fierce pride over its language, it’s also surprising that DS chooses to name its cars so clinically, so… Germanically. Injecting a little of that French chic into the DS (which itself is a word play on 'déesse', French for 'goddess') nomenclature could transform the brand's identity from a marketing perspective as engineers and product developers work on improving the cars. Think back to the DS19 and DS21 — adored for their innovation, luxury and Frenchness.

The market is crying out for alternatives from the German brands — just look at Jaguar Land Rover holding its own through its ingrained British identity. Meanwhile, as the car industry becomes more and more connected with the world of fashion (which shouldn’t be a stretch for the très Parisienne DS), DS has the opportunity to make some serious headway and grab much-needed sales from an unexploited group.

What DS needs is not to simply tell us that it’s French through its marketing and PR moves, but to be French — palpably and undeniably. Only then will people sit up and take notice. 

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