PARIS — PSA Group has named Gregoire Olivier as head of its struggling operations in China, a role he held from 2010 until 2016.
Olivier will replace Carlos Gomes, who is leaving at the end of June to work on a personal entrepreneurial project, PSA said.
Olivier has a "strong knowledge of this area and the Chinese culture that represents a competitive advantage regarding the current context,” PSA said in a news release.
China was PSA’s largest market in the mid-2010s, with sales topping out at 734,000 units in 2014. Since then, sales have fallen sharply to just 117,000 units in 2019, and a joint venture with Changan Automobile set up to build and distribute premium DS vehicles is in the process of being dissolved.
PSA continues to have a joint venture with Dongfeng Motor, with production facilities in the Wuhan area.
Factories in Wuhan were closed for about two months due to the coronavirus outbreak, and PSA-Dongfeng operations resumed in March, as the Chinese government lifted restrictions.
PSA CEO Carlos Tavares has struggled to revive sales and restore profits in China. Last autumn PSA launched a three-phase turnaround plan, starting with efforts to reduce the breakeven point to 180,000 vehicles and introduce new electrified models. The plan envisions profitability starting in 2021 and has a target of 400,000 sales by 2025.
Tavares has also said the PSA’s pending merger with Fiat Chrysler could offer new opportunities in China.
Olivier, 59, was chosen as an Automotive News Europe Eurostar in 2014. He is a French national who holds an MBA from the University of Chicago.