RENNES, France -- Vehicle sales at Citroen’s upscale DS line, which became a stand-alone brand on June 1, fell during the first half, hit by an aging product lineup and tougher competition from refreshed rivals such as Mini.
DS global sales fell 10 percent to 63,789 through June. The biggest decline was in Europe, where volume dropped 21 percent to 50,056 units. A bright spot was China where first-half DS sales were 10,482 units compared with 957 during the prior-year period.
PSA/Peugeot-Citroen launched the DS line in 2010 to help the automaker boost earnings by attracting customers willing to spend more money for high-spec models.
The brand has expanded from the initial DS 3 and DS 3 Cabrio subcompacts to offer the DS 4, DS 5 and DS 5LS compacts.
The next addition will be the China-only 6WR SUV, which was unveiled at the Beijing auto show in April.
Expanding DS sales is a crucial part of PSA CEO Carlos Tavares' Back to the Race turnaround plan for the automaker. He named PSA's former director of group strategy, Yves Bonnefont, to the newly created position of CEO of DS in June. Bonnefont is tasked with elevating DS from a tiny-but-successful division of Citroen to a global powerhouse.
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Citroen said first-half DS sales in Europe were hit by a contracting market in the segment where the brand competes, especially in France.
"DS is moving forward with the launch of a new front light signature for DS 3 and DS 3 Cabrio, new limited editions, new engines and its first SUV for China in September," Citroen said in a July 21 statement.
IHS Automotive analyst Ian Fletcher said Tavares’ anti-discount strategy and an aging lineup likely hurt DS sales. "The lynchpin DS 3 is five years old now and is a very familiar sight," Fletcher said. "It is facing vehicles that are benefiting from updates, such as the refreshed Mini, or are being heavily pushed by rivals, such as the new version of the Fiat 500."