PARIS - The biggest challenge for Peugeot's new 206 may be to live up to the legend of its predecessor, the 205.
The 205 did so well after its 1983 introduction that Peugeot was pulled back from the brink of disaster. More than 5.3 million have been sold since its debut.
'We must take on the legacy of the 205,' said Frederic Saint-Geours, managing director of Automobiles Peugeot.
The new supermini goes on sale in France and seven other countries in September.
Pricing will be aggressive. The FF63,900 ($10,680) base price in France is exactly the same as the new Renault Clio. The Clio is France's best seller and Peugeot's main target, along with the Volkswagen Polo.
'The 206 is a tool to regain market share in Europe and abroad,' said PSA/Peugeot-Citroen President Jean-Martin Folz. Folz told Peugeot sales executives they should sell 2.5 million units within the next four years.
Peugeot targets 7 percent of the French market with the 206, according to Saint Geours. The slightly smaller 106 captured 6.3 percent of French sales in 1997. Peugeot expects the 106 to maintain 3.5 percent of the market after the 206 is launched.
Peugeot will introduce a luxury, sporty version in Europe next spring with a glass roof and a new Siemens navigation system. The 206 production ramp-up will be fast. By the end of 1998, daily output will be 2,000 units: 1,500 in France, and 500 in the UK.
Production will start in Argentina in 1999 and in Brazil in late 2000.