Citroen DS and the smell of success

Douglas A. Bolduc is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe.Douglas A. Bolduc is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe.
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Citroen wants its DS cars to exude success from every fiber. That means one smell is banned from the upscale line of vehicles: plastic.

"The only thing you can smell is the smell of leather," PSA/Peugeot-Citroen Strategy Director Yves Bonnefont said about the experience customers should have when they sit inside a DS car.

Plastic is synonymous with cheap, therefore PSA has tweaked the chemical mix in all moldings used in DS models to remove "any smell of plastic," Bonnefont told the Automobilwoche Congress today in Berlin.

He said 400,000 DS variants have been sold globally that since the subbrand was launched three years ago. PSA decided in the mid-2000s to build upscale DS cars was because it found that half of all auto industry profits were generated from just 15 percent of the sales volume. After years of fighting almost exclusively in the low-margin mass market, Bonnefont said PSA decided it needed to do more in that 15 percent zone.

To win in that small-but-lucrative sector PSA knew that DS models had to stand apart. The strategy seems to be working so far. Bonnefont said that two out of three DS customers are new to the Citroen brand.

He said the next big challenge facing the DS brand is making sure those new customers remain loyal when the time comes for a model change.

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