Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares has bold plans for Citroën and its role within the group. The iconic brand is set to sharpen up its international strategy, and therefore unveiled on September 16 a totally new C3, according to Citroën “a versatile hatchback measuring less than 4m in length”. It will enable the brand to expand in India and consolidate its presence in South America.
This new C3 is very important: not in the least because it is the first model in a family of three vehicles aimed at the international market. It is developed and produced in India and South America and which will exclusively sold in those two regions over the next three years.
New C3 is conceived as a modern hatchback designed to meet the needs and road conditions of the two regions, offering comfort and connectivity to progressive customers in search of peace of mind and prestige.
Does this mean that Citroën, which since many decades has developed a tradition of providing affordable and reliable mobility (one has only to think of the iconic 2CV…) through ingenuity and excellent engineering focusing on effective solutions, will use its design and engineering experience in India and SA to strengthen and refine its acumen and expertise as manufacturer of affordable transport in our markets?
What Citroën CEO Vincent Cobée has to say about the brand and its international strategy…
The dynamic Stellantis PR department in Belgium offered us to participate in a media roundtable conference with Vincent Cobée, and of course the abovementioned question was burning in our minds.
Here follows what Mr. Cobée answered:
“Citroën is about innovation, well-being and you can call that humanism, you can call that audacity, you can call that a bit of a militant brand. We will remain like this, translated into the Indian ecosystem. We are not a petrolhead brand (although, we should note here, that Citroën played a favorite role in international rallies…) but we will be true to our global DNA. We will be competitive in India, which means developed, manufactured and distributed in India.
Having said this, we have entered in Europe in the car industry in Europe a rather complex period, where the technological requirements imposed by the European legislation are going to make the cars more expensive, and this at a time where there is an economic crisis looming, and at the same time the availability of freedom of movement is going to become more and more important with the pandemic which we have been living for the last year or so.
If you put those three things together, there will be an aggravated tension into affordable mobility.
So Citroën, as a social progressive, innovative brand, has a role to play here. The environment is obviously different from what we see in India or Brazil and those represent different challenges, but the spirit of maintaining and enhancing the freedom of mobility in an environment where there is a mismatch between the (consumer) appetite and the regulatory cost, this is something that we will address with ambition.
So every lesson that we can learn from our development in fast going markets outside of Europe will be helpful and indeed used…
Inspired by SUV architecture…
Now let’s turn to the new C3. It is built for international markets, where roads are not always in top condition. So this Citroën adapts to the terrain by drawing inspiration from SUVs for its ground clearance, high bonnet and elevated driver position.
In addition to Citroën’s trademark comfort and market-leading spaciousness, its clever design meets the wishes of a young, tech-savvy public, grown up with smartphones, which are totally integrated and connected to an XXL 10” touchscreen.
But that is not all. Set to be launched in the first half of 2022, New C3 will also offer an unprecedented customer experience, including innovative services and the opening of a dedicated sales website in certain markets.
India is both promising and (very) important…
India is a rather new market for Citroën and one with significant potential that will soon be the third largest in the world.
The brand announced its arrival in 2019 and launched its first import model at the start of 2021: C5 Aircross. As a new market player, Citroën is initially focusing on large metropolitan areas. As said here earlier, it offers a top level customer experience.
Citroën products are positioned at the forefront of the Indian market, thanks to a strategy of high-level local integration (more than 90%) based on the two joint venture agreements between the Stellantis Group and the companies in the CK Birla Group (car assembly and distribution and power-train manufacturing).
The automotive market in India is growing rapidly and is expected to reach over four million cars sold annually by 2025. B-segment hatchbacks represent nearly 23% of this market.
The new C3 is meant to appeal to customers for whom their car is a reflection of their personality. A car that they can customize however they wish, which is a strong expectation on the Indian market.
In addition, the compactness (less than 4m to fall into a lower tax band), agility, versatility, on-board space, comfort and connectivity will improve the experience of traffic conditions which can sometimes be difficult, while adapting to each individual’s lifestyle.
This new C3, which will be produced in Chennai, will be aimed at new married consumers in their thirties, from the emerging middle class, with a comfortable income, who will be attentive to the value offered by a product that represents a significant outgoing and which needs to be robust and practical to maintain. It must be attractive, modern with innovative options for connecting to the family’s smartphones, while reflecting their tastes and their personality.
A stronger position in South America…
Citroën’s presence in South America is much older, dating back to the 1960s. Citroën’s objective today is to gain a firmer foothold in this market with modern products, in step with customer aspirations. The C4 Cactus is produced in the Porto Real plant and embodies Citroën’s positioning in Argentina and Brazil with its original and bold styling as well as comfort.
Produced in Porto Real in Brazil, the New C3 symbolizes a real renewal in the region, with its modern styling, its connectivity and the experience of its on-board comfort. The B-Hatch segment accounts for almost 30% of the total market in Brazil and almost 26% in Argentina (data FY 2020).
The versatility and positioning of New C3 will ensure greater coverage of the segment (in Brazil, New C3 will cover 90% of the segment’s needs, compared to 40% for the former model, while that coverage rate in Argentina is set to increase from 50% to 75%).
It will be aimed at active couples in their forties, married and with two children, looking for a prestigious, versatile and spacious car for their short everyday journeys and also weekend getaways.
It will also appeal to independent and active single people in their thirties, living in cities and with a slightly higher-than-average monthly income, looking for a vehicle that is elegant (for modernity and status), robust and safe.
We show you here some photos of this new C3, and tell you here also that soon we will test the Citroën C3 Crossback and the C4… stay tuned on these columns!
Hans Knol ten Bensel