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Rester sur place! Citroen to stay in Australia despite modest sales

Distinctive in design and execution, Citroen is also known for outstanding ride and handling.

Despite less than 200 registrations so far in 2022, Citroen Australia says it is committed to an ongoing presence in the local new car marketplace.

With a national network of 10 dealers (plus 22 service and parts outlets), a total of 197 sales to the end of August represents an average of just 2.5 cars per month, per (sales) dealer. 

But when asked if that ratio is sustainable Citroen Australia Managing Director, Kate Gillis told CarsGuide: “We’re fully committed to Citroen within the Australian market. Sales have been light for this year, however we have improved on where we have been over the last number of years.”

Indeed, the brand is up 124 per cent year-on-year, having registered just 88 sales at the same point in 2021.

“What we’ve found this year is the semi-conductor supply issue has impacted Citroen, so if we put what we see in terms of sales with the order bank, that (YTD) number changes quite a bit,” Ms Gillis added.

Citroen has been present in the Australian new car market for 99 years. And in the 1960s, the 1D-19, and later the DS-21 were assembled in West Heidelberg in Melbourne’s North East. But longevity doesn’t always equal success.

However, Citroen’s National Corporate Affairs & Public Relations Manager, Chloe Fraser is keen to clarify the brand’s local positioning and sales run rate.

“There are so many brands in the Australian market, and not every one of them is going to be top 10. So for us, it’s around the fact there will always be a Citroen customer here in Australia, and we’re dedicated to serving them. It’s around bringing in product that suits that Citroen customer,” she said. 

“The biggest and best indication of Citroen’s commitment to the market is bringing in the fantastic new generation of product that’s coming through with the C4 and C5 X and continuing to expand our model range here.”

Citroen customers are very loyal.

The new-generation Citroen C4, launched locally in late 2021, is a small, five-seat SUV powered by a 114kW/240Nm 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine driving the front wheels through an eight-speed auto transmission.

According to Ms Gillis: “It’s been received better than expectations” 

“Then we’ve got the new C5 X coming through later this year. Two vehicles which aren’t SUVs, so it broadens the opportunity for us to sell to customers who are driving pre-C5 and C4s, and we’ve got quite a bit of interest that’s happening within those models,” she said.

Scheduled to arrive late this year, the C5 X is Citroen’s self-proclaimed flagship model. The premium fastback-style wagon is offered in pure combustion and plug-in hybrid form.

The C5 X is coming to Australia later this year.

Underpinned by the same platform as the Peugeot 508, the petrol-only version will be offered here in the top-spec Shine grade only, powered by a (133kW/300Nm) 1.6-litre turbo four, driving the front wheels through an eight-speed auto transmission. A PHEV, yet to be 100 per cent confirmed for Australia, pushes power up to 168kW, and delivers over 50km of pure EV range.

Distinctive in its design and execution, the brand is also known for outstanding ride and handling. And Ms Gillis recognises Citroen’s left-of-centre appeal can be a volume limitation. 

“The elements that make a Citroen a Citroen are the ones people fall in love with. It’s a very loyal customer,” she said. Adding, in a refreshingly pragmatic summation: “The brand is here to stay. It’s never going to be large volume. It’s going to meet the needs of the existing customer base, and it’s going to attract more people to it with every new product we launch.”

James Cleary
Deputy Editor
As a small boy James often sat on a lounge with three shoes in front of him, a ruler between the cushions, and a circular drinks tray in his hands. He would then play ‘drivings’, happily heading to destinations unknown for hours on end. He’s since owned many cars, raced a few, and driven (literally) thousands of them at all points of the globe. He’s steered around and across Australia multiple times, spent time as an advanced driving instructor, and had the opportunity to experience rare and valuable classics here and overseas. His time in motoring journalism has included stints at national and international titles including Motor, Wheels and TopGear, and when asked to nominate a career highlight, James says interviewing industry legend Gordon Murray, in the paddock at the 1989 Australian Formula One Grand Prix was amazing, especially as Murray waived away a hovering Ayrton Senna to complete the conversation. As Deputy Editor, James manages everything from sub-editing to back-end content, while creating written and video product reviews, as well as the weekly 'Tools in the Shed' podcast.'
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