PARIS -- DS Automobiles, the youngest brand in PSA/Peugeot-Citroen’s stable, has defended the high number of cars it sells through so-called self registrations, a practice that hurts profitability.
The tactic is helping to boost awareness for the upscale marque among potential buyers, DS CEO Yves Bonnefont said. “There is no better way to understand and appreciate DS’s premiumness than driving one of our cars. This is the reason why we increased the fleet for test drives,” Bonnefont told Automotive News Europe.
Nearly 50 percent of DS sales in Germany, Europe’s biggest market, were self registrations compared to a market average of 32 percent, figures from market researchers DataForce show. The number was 29 percent in Italy (market average 9.7 percent); 26 percent in Spain (6.7 percent average); 24 percent in France (16 percent average) and 7.7 percent in the UK (11 percent average).
Self-registrations are where dealers sell cars to themselves without having customer orders. The cars may be used in test fleets but are often sold to private buyers at a high discount.
DS sales are declining because the brand lacks fresh models after PSA was forced to slash product investment when the automaker’s financial struggles hit crisis levels three to four years ago. The DS3 subcompact, the best-seller among the three cars DS sells in Europe, is now six years old. The DS4 compact hatchback and the DS5 midsize car are each four years old. The brand’s European volume fell 16 percent to 27,236 units through April in a market that was up by 8.1 percent, according to industry association ACEA.
The DS badge was revived by PSA five years ago for a range of near-premium models. It became a standalone brand last year. The French automaker hopes the brand’s association with the iconic DS cars built by Citroen in the 1950s and 1960s will add to its appeal.
DS plans to debut five all-new models between 2018 and 2020, the brand’s head of products and business development, Eric Apdode, told Automotive News Europe.