PSA/Peugeot-Citroen is dispatching a senior executive, Gregoire Olivier, to Shanghai to oversee Europe's second biggest carmaker's ambitious expansion plans in Asia.
Olivier, 50, will be PSA's first board-level executive stationed in China and will lead the company's operations in China, Japan, India and southeast Asia.
Olivier's tasks will include strengthening PSA's deepening partnership with Japan's Mitsubishi Motor, expanding the French automaker's joint ventures with Chinese companies and organizing PSA's return to India, according to media reports.
Currently PSA's chief of automotive strategy, Olivier will assume his new duties on September 1.
Olivier, a French native who holds an MBA from the University of Chicago, joined PSA from French technology company Sagem in 2006, when he was named CEO of its parts subsidiary, Faurecia. He joined PSA's managing board in 2007.
PSA CEO Philippe Varin has targeted China as a major growth opportunity. PSA's group sales in China totaled 272,200 units last year, up 52 percent. For 2010, the company has targeted sales of 400,000 units, Reuters reported.
Varin wants to raise PSA's market share in China to 10 percent by 2020, reports the Wall Street Journal, up from 3.3 percent last year.
To do so, the company aims to construct a third assembly plant in a joint venture with Dongfeng Motor Corp. The new plant, which would have an annual production capacity of 150,000 to 200,000 units, aims to launch operations in 2012.
The partners currently operate two plants in the city of Wuhan, in Hubei province.
PSA also is negotiating a joint venture with Chang'an Automobile Group, China's fourth largest automaker and a major producer of minivans. Citroen Managing Director Frederic Banzet told Reuters that the second joint venture will produce commercial vans.
According to media reports, the new venture probably would be headquartered in the south China city of Shenzhen, where Chang'an has a plant that was closed in 2007.
PSA looking at India factory
China, Latin America and Russia are PSA's top three picks for international growth but India is a market that holds out hope for automakers, with new-car sales rising fast compared with flat sales in mature markets such as Europe and the United States.
In November, PSA said it was exploring various entry routes into the Indian auto market but has not taken a decision.
PSA's Laurent Cicolella said the company was also assessing whether it should enter India on its own or with a partner and whether it should launch a compact car in the country.
He was commenting on a report in The Financial Express that said PSA is looking at setting up a factory in India with a capacity of 6,000 units initially with an investment of around $323 million, rolling out mid-sized cars and hatchbacks in India by 2012.
PSA had a joint venture with India's Premier Ltd to make the Peugeot 309 in India in the 1990s, but the venture failed.