Image is everything as Citroen embarks on road to recovery
Published 31/03/2010 | 05:00
THE Citroen man summed it up: "We need to improve our brand image in Ireland." That is probably the motoring understatement of the year.
The name has been associated with European-imposed marketing and sales strategies that would test the basis of any company and the patience of any car owner.
Anyway, on the basis of new promises and lessons learned, Citroen wants us to accept that they are back with a bang and here to stay. And no more messing around with knocking the price of new cars as soon as they are rolled out.
The fresh push coincides with three new vehicles on the market and with the company's traditional strength of good diesel engines -- many of which now reside in VRT and road tax bands A and B.
They are hoping for a 2pc share of the market this year and 4pc by 2012 after plunging to a mere 1.7pc last year. But there are major hurdles ahead which include customer service, reliability and residual (trade-in) values.
The new C3 Picasso is a small people carrier that might resonate with families looking for a practical motor with a deceptive amount of space. The C3 supermini is new too with a decent amount of style and equipment while the DS3 is a love-it-or-hate-it 2dr rival for the likes of the MINI.
At least the trio represent fresh blood and provide some impetus for a marque badly in need of both. They are claiming big differences in their new prices with the likes of the C4 Picasso down by as much as €3,000 on last year.
The difference, of course, is that so many of Citroen's rivals have also slashed their prices in a market that is no less cut-throat because it is growing a little.
However, Citroen's levels of standard equipment are high and that is an area consumers are watching for more than ever.
Prices for the new C3 (1.4-litre petrol and diesel) start at €14,900 ex-works with the C3 Picasso (1.6-litre diesel) at €19,900. Both have plenty of style, room and typical Citroen touches.
And the DS3 fun car (you can personalise it to ridiculous levels) starts at €18,950 ex-works.
Yes, it is a big ask and a huge challenge for any marque to effectively come back into a market and re-establish itself.
As buyers, we all need as much competition for our money as possible and for that reason alone we should welcome a re-invigorated player. It's a long road for the French maker but every journey begins with just a single step.