But where does the chevron mark go? Citroën holds just 3.3% of the European market, according to the Association of European Automobile Manufacturers (ACEA). Even 2.3% in the month of December 2022 only. The company exceeded 4% in 2019, the year before Covid, 5% in 2013, 6% in 2010. In France, Citroën barely reached 8.5%. Against 10.5% in 2015. And, in 2010, the company was close to 15%! Supreme shame: Citroën was overtaken by Dacia last year… in Europe and also in France. Renault’s low-cost subsidiary now sells 100,000 copies more than Citroën in the Old Continent and a thousand more in France. “They took us off the podium in France”, lamented a Southwest brand dealer.
Moreover, Citroën’s commercial director for France, Jérôme Gautier, will leave his post on 1eh February. Even though the brand says it has nothing to do with it, dealers see a clear cause and effect relationship. The same Jérôme Gautier admitted that the market share should naturally be in France between 10 and 11%, during the conference organized by the agents last November (reported by the Journal de l’automobile). 2022 will be the worst year since the data compiler AAA Data published the numbers, similar to 2001. Even worse: the small Citroën C3 released in 2016, whose replacement will be presented at the end of the year, is lost third place in the French market (by model), in favor of Dacia Sandero inserted between Peugeot 208 and Renault Clio! The French manufacturer registered 375,578 new cars last year in Europe (-15.7%), according to the Association of European Automobile Manufacturers (ACEA), including 129,883 in France (-19.8%) d ‘after the PFA (Automotive Platform ).
A lack of attractiveness of the range
The reasons for this rejection presented by Citroën? “We suffered from a lack of cars due to the component crisis and logistical problems,” pointed out Vincent Cobée, director of Citroën, during the tests of the C4X electric compact in Madrid last week. This is the official reason cited by all manufacturers to justify the drop in their volumes. This is not due to the lack of semiconductors and lack of production in factories. In addition, the shortage of truck drivers led to serious disruptions in the delivery of parts and the vehicles themselves. Finally, the component crisis led to allocation choices at group level, favoring the most profitable models, and therefore not necessarily Citroëns. But the explanation, cyclical, is quite short. “We are upset, not happy,” admitted Nicolas Luttringer, Citroën’s new marketing director for France.
“Carlos Tavares wants margins more than volumes, but should we continue to lose market share?” Bitter question, the boss of a distribution group in France, adding: “we have been losing market share in individuals for the last four to five years”. The reasons? Some product choices are unfortunate. Stellantis thus abandoned the petrol and diesel versions of its Berlingo MPV, keeping only the more expensive and less functional electric version. Consequently, an immediate fall in sales (-70% in eight months). But, above all, “the brand has lost its appeal. The models have not been renewed quickly”, underlined a Citroën agent in the Paris region, adding: “Stellentis expresses that we are an access brand, but our prices are not inaccessible prices. They are too high, we cannot sell at the price of Opel or Peugeot”. The first Citroën model actually starts at 16,590 euros, against 11,490 for Dacia, 11,740 for Hyundai, 12,790 for Kia, 15,100 for Opel. “Between a Dacia and a Citroën, the customer looking for a low price will come first”, explains Eric Champarnaud, analyst and co-founder of C-Ways.
A historical elderly client
Citroën also lacks small electric cars, such as the Dacia Spring, Opel Corsa or Peugeot 208 zero emission. A C3 city car is expected, but it won’t be revealed before the end of the year for next year’s marketing. The brand also does not have a 48-volt micro-hybrid in the catalog, while non-rechargeable hybrids are in the spotlight in the Renault Clio, for example. There is also no LPG in the program like in Dacia or cars that run on superethanol like the Ford Fiesta or the small Ford Puma SUV. These fuels cost half as much as unleaded. Another, more structural factor: “Citroën is a very generational brand with relatively old customers who renew their cars less often. There is a real problem attracting young people”, continues by Eric Champarnaud. This relatively old clientele refers to the history but also to the products themselves. In other words, the old French firm, taken over by Peugeot in 1974, is looking for itself and the market shares are shrinking!
The total European market (passenger cars) will fall in 2022 to its level in 1993, a dark year for the automotive industry, the Association of European Automobile Manufacturers (ACEA) announced on Wednesday. Despite a slight improvement in sales since August, the market is down 4.6% over the year, reaching almost 9.3 million new cars.