Peugeot and Citroen have suffered for years because car buyers have trouble distinguishing one brand from the other. Citroen CEO Frederic Banzet says his automaker will address that problem by using its DS line to capture premium customers and its C-line to win over buyers who want an "optimized cost-to-function ratio." That means they will accept a less powerful engine if they get a more advanced infotainment system. Banzet discussed the changes taking place at Citroen with Automotive News Europe Editor Luca Ciferri and Managing Editor Douglas A. Bolduc.
How important will price be in Citroen's new positioning compared with Peugeot?
We never said it was a positioning based on price. We looked at customers' expectations per segment, which enabled us to position the brands. If you take the current situation, the price of the new Citroen C3 in France is between 12,150 euros up to 21,000 euros. A DS3 is 16,500 euros up to 30,000 euros. So you can see the wide range of prices we're covering.
What will characterize the new C-line?
The idea is to address different customers and to try to limit – or eliminate – the overlap between the different brands in the group. It's true that the DS line goes into a territory where you find the majority of the premium customers. We want to have an evolution of the C-line toward cars that will still have a very strong design with quite radical choices and a new range of specifications.
We're not planning to have C-line cars that can be driven at 250kph on the highway, which means simplification of the engine range and gearboxes. But value is added elsewhere, through the ability for the customer to personalize his car with smart equipment like a large touchscreen. We also want a very competitive cost of ownership.
When will the first C-line models reach the market?
The first product to result from that philosophy will be launched in the second half of 2014. We made bold choices to try to really capture customers with something that sets us apart to avoid the pure comparison on price.
Are you preparing a rival to Renault's low-cost Dacia brand based on the E3?
The E3 is not low cost. It has a very competitive price because we managed to reduce costs through simplification.
Will the E3 production model closely resemble the 2007 C-Cactus concept?
The car is inspired by the C-Cactus.