The buzz at last month's Geneva auto show was what would PSA CEO Carlos Tavares do to streamline his enlarged stable of brands, given that Citroen, Peugeot and new addition Opel/Vauxhall all compete in Europe's saturated volume car market. If that's not challenging enough, Tavares' near-premium DS brand has a long way to go to get on the same shopping list as a BMW, Audi or Jaguar.
Tavares said he does not foresee plant closures, job cuts or brand eliminations at Europe's second-largest automaker because there are northern European markets where a German car will continue to be preferred to a French one while the opposite is true in southern Europe.
Some automaker and supplier executives, who are not directly affiliated with PSA, told me they have heard rumblings in Paris that the Citroen brand could be axed soon. Under that scenario, PSA would count on French-styled Peugeots to lead the way in southern Europe while German-centric Opels would be the flagship brand in northern Europe, with all of the cars sharing the same underpinnings. As an added benefit, it is expected that outside of Europe -- especially in China -- Opels and Peugeots would draw completely different customers, something that Peugeot and Citroen struggle to achieve.