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Peugeot Ponders Return to the U.S. Market

Just the Facts:
  • French automaker Peugeot is considering a return to the U.S. market later in the decade.
  • The company's last U.S. offering was the 405 range in 1991.
  • Three brands have the potential to be offered in the U.S.: Peugeot, Citroen and DS, an upmarket Citroen-based marquee.

PARIS — PSA Peugeot Citroen, the French manufacturer that last sold cars in the U.S. in 1991, is considering a return to the American market later in the decade, the company's chief executive indicated.

The company is now embarking on a major recovery program under new boss Carlos Tavares that should see it return to profit in 2016 after a long period of heavy losses.

Responding to a question about Peugeot's potential return to the U.S., Tavares, former head of Japanese automaker Nissan, said Peugeot must first achieve four target goals, after which "we can then look at the next steps we should take."

As part of the company's "Back in the Race" recovery plan, Tavares said three brands — Peugeot, Citroen and DS, an upmarket nameplate grown out of Citroen — will be reinvigorated so that they can "operate anywhere in the world."

The question of Peugeot's return to the U.S. was raised earlier with General Motors' 2012 acquisition of a 7-percent stake, since sold, that led to a joint European product development program with Peugeot. Despite GM's sale of its Peugeot shares, that joint program will continue under the new plan, although it is unclear if GM remains a potential avenue for the reintroduction of Peugeot models into the U.S.

The four goals that PSA Peugeot Citroen must achieve before a North American re-entry can be reconsidered are as follows:

• Establish a three-brand portfolio of Peugeot, Citroen and DS.

• Focus the company's creative energy on a more limited range of products, with the group's shrinking from 45 models to 26.

• Ensure profitable growth everywhere in the world, emulating the model that Peugeot has deployed in China, where it makes money.

• Modernize the company to achieve higher manufacturing efficiencies, especially in France.

These goals should be achieved by 2017-'18, after which the company may consider a return to the U.S.

During his video presentation of the plan, Tavares said, "We know how to make great automobiles, and one evidence of this strength is the fact that the Peugeot 308 has been awarded the 2014 European Car of the Year. And from a quality perspective, from a durability perspective, from a fit and finish perspective, our products are at a very high level, possibly one of the best levels in the industry."

Edmunds says: Car shoppers should not expect to see a Peugeot in showrooms any time soon, but there is a glimmer of hope that the French brand may be revived here in the future.

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