DS shrinks lineup to distance brand from Citroen ties
PARIS -- DS Automobiles will halt sales of the DS 4 and DS 5 by year-end as PSA Group's upscale brand continues efforts to shed its former identity as a Citroen subbrand.
Yves Bonnefont, who has been CEO of DS since it was spun off from Citroen in 2014, said this week that production of the two models, which were derived from Citroen designs, had already stopped at their respective factories in eastern France. The DS 4 is produced in Mulhouse and the DS 5 in Sochaux.
The final Citroen-based model, the DS 3 small hatchback, has received new electronic architecture to improve connectivity, and powertrain choices have been restricted to gasoline engines.
The introduction of the DS 7 Crossback compact SUV, the first model designed expressly for the brand, has boosted sales, which are up 14 percent globally in the first half of 2018, and 25 percent in Europe.
The next new DS model will be revealed at the Paris auto show this autumn. It is likely to be a small crossover or SUV to replace the DS 3. The new model will have a full-electric version.
DS sales have fallen sharply in recent years, especially in China, one of its target markets. However, Bonnefont and PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares have said building the brand is a long-term project, as DS tries to carve out an identity in the premium market against its largely German competitors.
“The first half of 2018 is a very important moment for us,” Bonnefont said. “It's the first time that all the ingredients of DS's strategy are put together. We carefully synchronized the launch of the DS 7 Crossback, and the launch of the new dealer network with our stores.”
It translated into good commercial results. “It's the first evidence that the strategy we're pursuing is the right one,” Bonnefont added
DS models were first sold at Citroen dealers, but DS has been opening dedicated points of sale, and by September they will be the only places buyers can order a DS.
Bonnefont expects that DS 7 sales will increase at a faster pace as new powertrains are introduced. A 180-hp diesel will be joined by 180- and 225-hp gasoline engines, as well as a lower-powered diesel and, next year, a plug-in hybrid version with four-wheel-drive and a total of 300 hp.
DS reached another milestone this year with the opening of its own design studio at PSA's technical center in Velizy, France.
One of the first products of the studio, the DS X eTense concept, was shown this spring in digital form. Bonnefont said that DS would produce a physical version of the eTense, which features asymmetric cockpits meant to evoke the sensations of manual and autonomous driving, “very soon.”