Peugeot is counting on the new 3008 and face-lifts of the 208, 308 and other models to boost sales in the midterm despite headwinds such as slowing sales in China, stiff competition in Europe and declining demand for diesels. Maxime Picat, who was Peugeot CEO for nearly four years before taking over as PSA Group's head of Europe on Sept. 1, outlined the French automaker's plans for its biggest brand. He recently spoke with Automotive News Europe Correspondent Bruce Gain.
What effect do you see the new 3008 compact SUV/crossover having on the Peugeot brand?
The new 3008 represents an acceleration for the brand because we know exactly the direction we want Peugeot to go. We drew much from the improvements we made on the 2008 and 308 with regard to quality, design, fuel-efficiency and driving performance. We took all of this to another level with the 3008.
Peugeot has struggled with midsize SUV/crossovers with the previous-generation 3008 and 5008 as well as with the Mitsubishi-sourced 4007 and 4008. How will the new 3008 change this?
The previous-generation 3008 was a huge success in some countries, but less so in others. After asking our customers why this was the case, we learned that they increasingly look at SUVs as more than just a niche product. Instead of offering something that was a cross between a minivan and an SUV, we opted to launch a real SUV to best meet demand in Europe and worldwide. We are also lucky because what customers in different countries want [from an SUV] does not vary much. This SUV-styled 3008 is what customers want.
What role will minivans play in PSA's future lineup?
When you have a booming sector such as SUVs, then you change your strategy accordingly. When industry sales of a segment begin to slow down, then you have to reassess what the group's strategy is for that particular vehicle type. That is why Peugeot went in the SUV direction, while Citroen continues to have excellent success with its Picasso C4 minivan.