DETROIT -- Canada will play a key role in PSA Group's plan to return to North America, the executive leading the effort said.
Larry Dominique, CEO of PSA North America, said the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which went into effect last September, will make it easier to bring European vehicles into Canada.
He also said that the vehicles are likely to appeal to French-speaking Canadians in Quebec and other eastern provinces.
“Canada to us is a very important market,” Dominique said in a roundtable with Automotive News here.
However, it will be several years before any PSA brands are sold in North America. PSA is the umbrella company for the Peugeot, Citroen, Opel, Vauxhall and DS brands.
Initially the company plans to enter mobility services, starting with its Free2Move app that offers access to a number of car- and bike-sharing services. Dominique said it will create its own mobility service, using other brands’ vehicles if needed, before initiating retail sales.
Dominique said the company is studying innovative ways to sell cars in a digital era, most likely without requiring large, expensive stores and possibly partnering with other companies for some parts of the business.
He said Canada has another advantage in that its franchise-protection laws are less-restrictive than those in the U.S.: “From a distribution perspective, it’s more flexible than the United States.”
PSA CEO Carlos Tavares, former head of Nissan North America, has said that expansion into North America is necessary for the automaker as a global company.
The CETA agreement removes tariffs on autos and parts between the EU and Canada. Last year EU manufacturers exported 145,434 cars to Canada, up 2.6 percent, according to auto association ACEA's industry guide.