JEAN-MARTIN FOLZ wants to give more product development independence to Peugeot and Citroen, while finding new ways for the divisions to share costs.
He wants Peugeot and Citroen vehicles built on the same platforms to be built in the same plants. But the divisions would have more freedom to develop niche cars and design distinctive base models.
The new strategy is sound and long overdue. It would put PSA in step with the rest of the industry.
In particular, Citroen needs to be revived. Citroen products have become closer in style and substance to Peugeots. The idiosyncratic brand character is being lost.
If you had pointed this out to Jacques Calvet, he would have argued with you. But from what we can tell, Folz understands the problem and will do something about it.
It won't be easy. Citroen needs to compete with mainstream brands, while retaining an eccentric spirit. The XM was a valiant attempt to maintain Citroen values, but it was not entirely successful.
The predicament is not unlike Saab's. Both have special qualities to preserve while chasing new customers. Neither has used their singular qualities advantageously in the last decade.
Folz has shown enthusiasm for Citroen's design tradition. That is encouraging. Calvet five years ago rejected a Fiat Punto-like design for the Saxo because it was too expensive. The result was a 106 clone that disappointed dealers.
Within limits, Citroen and Peugeot will probably gain flexibility to plan their own cars and derivatives. It won't necessarily be at the cost of economies of scale. Designers will have more freedom as platforms become more flexible.
It is too easy to criticize Calvet during his first months out of office. He saved the company, after all. But the time is right for Folz.
In his three months on the job, Folz has been nearly invisible to the outside world. He'll need to become a more public figure. But the speed with which he has acted is impressive.