PARIS - New sub-B minicars, small minivans and executive sedans are among future PSA products that will increasingly help differentiate the Peugeot and Citroen brands, say sources within the company.
While there will be common platforms across the group, PSA/ Peugeot-Citroen executives stress it is vital to distinguish the two marques more clearly.
There was criticism of PSA's brand strategy after the launch of the Citroen Saxo in 1996. It was almost identical to the Peugeot 106. In the future, there will be no shared styling, and the time gaps between launches of Peugeot and Citroen products will be extended.
Robert Peugeot, executive vice-president in charge of design and innovation, said: 'Our new platform strategy has a double target: to maximize differentiation in terms of style and concept between Peugeot and Citroen; and to reduce costs and find the best synergy in the development stage.'
Peugeot is among the top executives who are masterminding the new policy under PSA Chairman Jean-Martin Folz. They include Frédéric Saint-Geours and Claude Satinet, executive vice presidents in charge of Peugeot and Citroen brands respectively, and Luc Epron, vice-president in charge of PSA group product planning. Roland Vardanega, who runs the platform division, and Jean Wolff, head of engineering, complete the team.
Their first task is to specify a clearer definition for each brand's personality. 'Peugeot means dynamism and aesthetic quality. Citroen is looking toward interior space and leisure values,' said Peugeot. He added: 'We are subtlely moving the two brands away from each other.'
An example of this is the launch of the Citroen Picasso minivan in late 1999. There will be a 'suitable delay' before a Peugeot equivalent appears - although the Peugeot minivan will be a seven-seat rival to the Opel Zafira. Likewise, the 406 Coupe will be unique, and the Peugeot 206 will spawn a two-door-convertible version in 2000.
The largest Peugeot project is the replacement of the lower-medium 306 by the 307, due for launch in 2001.
This will give rise to a large number of derivatives, including a two-box, three-box and wagon, plus the seven-seat compact minivan. A replacement for the 406 upper-medium sedan is also likely to include a 4x4 wagon version.
Other new Peugeot models include a minicar codenamed A5 and based on a shortened 206 platform. It will compete with the Renault Twingo, Ford Ka and Volkswagen Lupo.
The A5 could appear in 2002, while a wagon version of the 206, to be built in Europe and Brazil, is also under consideration.
The debut of the long-awaited Picasso minivan is expected later this year. The launch of the upper-medium X40 sedan to replace the Xantia is scheduled for late 2000.
A facelifted Saxo will also appear next year. The next all-new Citroens will be the small sub-B car based on the C3 concept, due in 2002, and an upper-range model based on the 1999 Geneva show C6 concept. Other options include pick-ups and vans.
The difference between the small Peugeots and Citroens illustrates the future brand strategy at PSA, said one insider. 'The Citroen C3 will offer lots of space, and will be very practical, while the 206 appeals to dynamic drivers.'
In the upper-range, the new big Peugeot 605 replacement will go on sale in early 2000, and will not compete with a Citroen equivalent before 2003 - the estimated time by which Citroen could launch its C6-based car.
Called the 607, it is a conventionally designed executive sedan, and will make its debut at the Frankfurt auto show next month.
Another aspect of PSA's strategy deals with the scope of the two ranges. 'We regularly talk with our colleagues from Citroen in order to coordinate our policies. But there are no restricted areas,' said Bruno de Guibert, Peugeot product planning chief.
His Citroen counterpart, Vincent Besson, said the vision for the marque for the next five years lies in the architecture of the cars. 'This must give more interior space, more well-being, ease and safety for the users.'
De Guibert said: 'First, a Peugeot is sound value, reliable and safe, a kind of 'French Mercedes'. Second, it's a car with dynamic qualities, fast and comfortable.
'Third is aesthetic quality. Drivers do not consider cars only as useful objects; they also enjoy their beauty.'