Citroen CEO Linda Jackson knows she won't reach her goal of having half of the brand's sales come from China next year. A big reason for that was Citroen's late arrival to the hot SUV segment. Jackson explained what happened and shared her new China target with Automotive News Europe Correspondent Nick Gibbs.
Why do the Chinese get the C5 Aircross SUV this year while Europe waits until 2018?
It's part of the core model strategy of giving every region a new car every year. When you launch more than one vehicle it can become complicated and it increases the danger that you miss something in terms of the quality. In Europe, we will have the C3 Aircross [subcompact SUV] this year, then at the end of next year the C5 Aircross will debut. China will get the C3 Aircross next year.
You said in 2015 you wanted 50 percent of Citroen's sales to come from China by 2018. China sales fell 17 percent last year. What is your target now?
Unfortunately, I'm at 35 percent and I've decided I need to get to 45 percent by 2021. My ambition is still to get to 50 percent. We've done very well growing volume in Europe, but we've struggled in China. In 2015 China was our largest-single market, now it's back to being France. We have suffered because we didn't have the right products. Four years ago, our sedans were absolutely right for China. Then suddenly SUVs took off, Chinese manufacturers came in and there was a price war. We weren't willing to enter the price war.