PARIS -- Citroen will unveil this week a global re-branding initiative that introduces a new, near-premium product line and calls for wide-ranging changes across its 3,300-dealer global network.
Timed to coincide with Citroens 90th birthday, the project will bring the first update of the brands chevron logo since 1985. The rebranding also will introduce a new marketing slogan and a harmonized global Internet site.
The brand has been lagging behind the cars for some time, marketing director Xavier Chardon told Automotive News Europe. Were taking action today so customers want to come to Citroen for what the brand represents and not just out of interest in a given model.
Code-named three years to impress the world, the initiative is the final legacy of former Citroen Managing Director Gilles Michel, who left the carmaker in December to head a government-run sovereign wealth fund.
Michel, who has not yet been replaced, wanted Citroen to reduce its reliance on small cars, improve its brand image and grow its market share.
Rebirth of the DS line
Chardon will present the re-branding project, which has been under development since mid-2007, to Citroens staff and dealers on February 4.
The new range of upper-end Citroens will be a key element of the initiative. We will offer products within the Citroen brand that have added value and carry elements of the premium sector, PSA/Peugeot-Citroen styling director Jean-Pierre Ploue said.
Industry sources say the new cars will mark a rebirth of the DS line, Citroens flagship range from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. The first model is expected to arrive in late 2009 or early 2010, and be called DS3.
In 2008, Citroens global new-car sales fell 7.2 percent to 1.35 million. Its European market share was unchanged at 6.5 percent.
The rollout of the premium line will run parallel with a five-year plan to overhaul the companys global dealership network.
We will demand major changes in the architecture of the showrooms, but more than anything we want to see an evolution in our relationship with our customers, Chardon said.
Citroen will ask its dealers to sign a new charter laying out terms of the showroom overhaul, as well as better customer service standards and improved vehicle maintenance and repair operations.
Weve been improving in customer service, but we have a long way to go, Chardon said.
Luca Ciferri contributed