PSA boss Tavares wants DS to become stand-alone brand

The DS3 subcompact, pictured, is a strong seller for Citroen.
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GENEVA -- Incoming PSA/Peugeot-Citroen CEO Carlos Tavares wants the company's upscale Citroen DS product line to become a stand-alone brand.

The DS perfectly epitomizes French glamor and the Latin lifestyle, Tavares said.

"German automakers make money mainly thanks to their premium brands and DS is PSA's premium brand," he said.

Tavares, who joined PSA from French rival Renault, said he was impressed by what Citroen did with DS while he was Renault's chief operating officer. "As soon as I joined PSA, I congratulated the DS team for the excellent work they have done so far," he said.

Tavares did not give any timescale on when DS could become a stand-alone brand. While he wants to expand the DS line, he says PSA will need to rationalize the Citroen and Peugeot model lineups so the company can return to profitability.

"When you have too many models you do not have enough market money to support all them," Tavares said during a roundtable discussion at the Geneva auto show on Tuesday. He declined to provide specifics of which models could be cut or when.

He also considers the Citroen C4 Cactus compact, which debuted in Geneva, as typical of future mainstream Citroens, designed around comfort, easy of use, smart and innovations. One innovation is the so-called Airbumps on the sides and bumpers of the C4 Cactus, which are intended to protect the car from minor bumps and scratches. The Airbumps will be confined to Citroen's C-line of mainstream models. "You will never see Airbumps on any Peugeot model," he said.

In terms of brand positioning, the Peugeot 308 compact, which was named 2014 European Car of the Year on Monday, epitomizes what Tavares sees as Peugeot's brand values: a convergence of the rigor, seriousness and robustness typical of a German car with the emotion of a Latin brand.

You can reach Luca Ciferri at lciferri@crain.com.

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