PARIS - PSA has ambitious plans to boost sales of its Peugeot and Citroen brands in Germany.
Germany is Europe's biggest car market and is a key target for Jean-Martin Folz, PSA/Peugeot-Citroen chairman.
Jean-Jacques Couderchet, head of Peugeot Deutschland, sees 'a potential of 171,000 passenger car sales a year for Peugeot' in Germany by the middle of the decade.
Meanwhile, Pascal Soland, head of Citroen Deutschland, is 'aiming for annual sales of 100,000 units by 2004.'
Next year, Peugeot expects to sell 126,000 units in Germany -up from 112,000 this year. Citroen's German sales are predicted to reach 82,000 in 2001 - up from 60,000 this year.
'Only Mercedes-Benz, Smart, Toyota, Skoda and Citroen have increased sales [in Germany] over the first nine months,' said Soland.
The German new-car market fell by 11.3 percent, to 2.95 million units, in the January-September period. ACEA, the European automakers' association, blamed the decline on a glut of used cars and a lack of exciting new models.
But PSA says it is optimistic about the future in Germany for two reasons:
New model launches, including the Peugeot 307 and Citroen C5.
Dealer network reorganization, scheduled for completion at the end of 2002 for Citroen and at the end of 2003 for Peugeot.
In 1998, Peugeot sold fewer than 100,000 vehicles in Germany. Citroen sold fewer than 50,000 units. That gave PSA a combined German market share of 3.6 percent (2.4 percent for Peugeot; 1.2 percent for Citroen).
Peugeot wants a minimum 5 percent market share in the main European markets, but has so far fallen far short of that figure. Last year, Peugeot had a German market share of 2.6 percent - for both passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. In the first nine months of this year, that share had climbed to almost 3 percent.
Citroen's German market share was a little more than 1 percent last year. During the January-September period, its share rose to 1.6 percent.
PSA's long-term aim is for the two brands to account for 6-8 percent of the German market.
The launch of new products is helping Peugeot regain market share in Germany, said Couderchet.
'The 206 makes up 46 percent of our passenger-car sales in Germany,' he said.
Couderchet predicts a 13 percent increase in Peugeot's German sales next year, thanks to four major launches: the full-size 607, the lower-medium 307, the 206 coupe-convertible and the 807 full-size minivan.
He added: 'Peugeot has improved its image in Germany.'
Citroen's hot models in Germany are its two compact minivans, the Berlingo multispace and the Picasso.
'We'll sell 12,000 Berlingos and 10,000 Picassos in Germany this year,' said Soland. 'We only sold 4,000 Berlingos in 1999, and the Picasso hadn't been launched. The two models fit customer expectations because the German carmakers don't have these kinds of vehicles in their product ranges.'
Soland expects to sell more than 15,000 units of Citroen's new flagship, the C5, in Germany in 2001. Annual sales of the C5 will reach 20,000 units eventually, he said.
Peugeot and Citroen have also begun a dramatic reshaping of their German dealer networks. Peugeot started first in 1998.
'By late 2003 we'll have 300 dealers, compared to 600 in 1997,' said Couderchet.
This figure will include 20 factory dealers, to be located in main urban centers such as Berlin. Future Peugeot sales will be split evenly between existing dealers, new dealers and factory dealers.
'It's not very difficult to find candidates because many carmakers are restructuring their German dealer networks,' said Soland. 'Opel is cutting one-third of its network, and Renault and Nissan have also launched a vast restructuring exercise.'
Soland said Citroen would start restructuring its German dealer network later this year.
'We want dealers that sell over 200 new cars a year, instead of an average 150 now,' he said. 'We have 340 dealers and 400 sub-dealers today. We will have 300 dealers eventually - by the end of 2002. We are going to cancel 30 contracts, and 100 existing dealers will become sub-dealers. We will also hire 80 new dealers, especially in areas in the western part of the country.'