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France's PSA Group Has "Chosen a Brand" for U.S. but Won't Say Which

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 3/23/2018 David Muller

a car parked in front of a building: France's PSA Group Has "Chosen a Brand" for U.S. but Won't Say Which© David Muller France's PSA Group Has "Chosen a Brand" for U.S. but Won't Say Which

You may have heard by now that French automaker PSA Group plans to sell vehicles in the United States once again after a nearly 30-year absence but is starting first with "mobility." As part of a three-phase plan, the company launched its Free2Move mobility aggregation platform in Seattle last year, and the next phases include adding its vehicles to different car-sharing services and then finally retailing its wares. Larry Dominique, president and CEO of PSA North America, told attendees at the National Auto Dealers Association convention in Las Vegas, "Our launch as a mobility service shouldn't overshadow our core business: We are a car manufacturer."

As a global automaker, PSA Group is absent from two prominent markets: India and the United States. Its planned re-entry into the States is on a 10-year plan, but Dominique said he has group CEO Carlos Tavares's blessing to begin offering cars whenever he feels the market is ready. When C/D asked Dominique which models could be coming, he declined to give specifics. "We've chosen a brand, but it's too early to talk about it," he said.

Could it be Peugeot? Citroën? Might PSA troll General Motors and sell Opels here? Actually, that third option, while perhaps the least exciting, is not so unlikely. One of the advantages Tavares noted after the PSA Group acquired the brands from GM for $1.4 billion last year is that Opel engineers can “ensure the future products for this market will be fully U.S. compliant," aligned with both regulations and Americans' particular tastes. They could do that for Peugeot or Citroën, too, as the company consolidates its holdings and shares engineering and development programs. Badging new products under one of the French brands would be no more difficult than it was for GM to sell Opel products here under the Buick banner.

But even as the PSA Group sounds resolute about its re-entry into the U.S. market, it's hard to tell whether the first phase has gone swimmingly so far. The Free2Move app can be downloaded and used anywhere in the United States where its aggregated mobility offerings—car-sharing services such as Zipcar and Car2Go—are available, but the company has only "activated its marketing" in Seattle, Dominque told C/D. "It's just a good market for mobility," he said.

Peugeot cars were pulled from the U.S. market in 1991, and Citroën cars haven't been offered by the manufacturer for sale stateside since the mid-1970s.


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