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Jean-Marc Gales

“ we need to be one step ahead”

The Luxembourgish head of Peugeot and Citroën is remaking the classic French auto brands. Can they compete with the Germans? Interview: Aaron Grunwald — Photo: Olivier Minaire

Native Luxembourger Jean-Marc Gales joined France’s largest carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroën in 2009, after nearly 20 years in the German automotive industry. Today he is global chief of the firm’s Peugeot and Citroën brands. He spoke with Delano on the sidelines of a recent BGL BNP Paribas “Doers & Thinkers” conference. AG: How are you transforming the marques? J-MG: Two years ago we started to separate the brands much stronger. We used to have two generalist brands that were too close one to another and sometimes stepped on each other’s toes. One of the first jobs was to clearly position Citroen with “creative technology” and Peugeot on “motion and emotion”. To do that in terms of first of all brand positioning, then the design of the cars, having different design codes per brand. Which is important, so people immediately see what a Peugeot is and what is a Citroën. Our intention is to position both brands higher. Peugeot should become a brand of reference in terms of quality and design. And Citroen will be a polar brand, you could say. On the one hand, you have the classic Citroëns like the Picassos, the C3 and the C4. On the other hand, the DS3, the DS4 and the DS5 which we just launched, are premium cars. The DS [line] is the embodiment of French refinement and luxury.

Jean-Marc Gales: investing in technology and service

AG: Is French refinement and luxury enough to compete with the German auto industry? J-MG: It’s not sufficient, you need technology as well. So we say that in terms of fuel consumption, ecological compatibility, we need to be one step ahead. There we’ve clearly said that we want to reduce the CO2 of our cars even further, and be below the limits set by the European Community. In 2010, we were the first generalist manufacturer [to offer] “real” electric cars, not something you’d also utilize on a golf course. They’re real cars, with high levels of safety, where you can fit in four adults.

AG: What about Luxembourg, it’s a small car market but is it important for PSA? J-MG: It’s a small market, but it’s a very premium market. I’m very glad to say sales of both brands last year increased in Luxembourg. All our dealer outlets in Luxembourg, be it Peugeot or Citroën, will feature our new brand identity at the latest by 2012. So, it will be much easier when you enter our showrooms, because there’s one thing we got from research in the US: going to a car showroom is the second worst experience after going to the dentist. Jean-Marc Gales talks about improving customer service and PSA’s plans for China on

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09.06.2011 11:22:21 Uhr

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