Peugeot are back in the race. And they've got the right products to challenge the leaders.
"This isn't a product launch. It's a brand relaunch." So says Xavier Gobille, new CEO for Peugeot South Africa. He was previously with Nissan and before that at Renault. It was then that I met him, and heard him speak passionately about Confiance, that brand's attempt at turning French car perceptions in South Africa on their heads with a comprehensive warranty and service plan. A month later I bought a Sandero.
Seven years on it's still going strong and similarly Peugeot are about to bundle their cars with a 5yr/100,000km warranty and service plan called Peugeot Pride. Will lightning strike a second time?
A legacy brand
Two centuries, that's 200 years of first producing scooters, bicycles, pepper mills, coffee grinders and such - that's Peugeot.
And it was 117 years ago when the brand arrived in Cape Town to market its first car. In a past life I was a graphic designer - as such, I still love logos and badges especially of the motoring variety. So, it gives me a lot of satisfaction to see the Lion emblem evolve over time, with several classic saloons from their history on display. As has their vehicles evolved - such as the 308, 3008 and 5008 etc. (Please link).
I often say, I cannot recall the last time I drove a bad Peugeot. They deserve to sell better. Sadly, they have not been able to shake off the ghosts of their past in South Africa, old (but earned) hang-ups on reliability and aftersales that were sadly collected at a much older time. Fast forward to recent times and it's a brand that does well everywhere else with more than 2million sold in 2017, 18% market share worldwide, and accolades such as the number one SUV in Europe.
"We are back, " added Gobille, "back in the race."
A fitting statement from a man who in a former life was a racing driver - and Peugeot certainly have an illustrious motorsport past of their own. But how will they fix their sales problem? Firstly, by strengthening their dealer network, then improving their aftersales experience as well as their customer relationship management team.
New Peugeot 108 relaunched in South Africa
The products have been great for a while now, but now they're focusing on emotions, how the cars feel and how they make us feel too. "Feel the car, touch the car. Take ten minutes please and just use your senses to experience it," Xavier implores which I admit is what I plan to do in my evaluation of the 108 and 5008 respectively.
Carshop First Drive: Updated Peugeot 5008
The return of PSA?
Yes, nothing less than. And that will include Citroen next. Hopefully Opel and DS - the luxury offshoot of Citroen will be soon following. Viva la Joie de vivre. Viva la quirk!