We met already Mme Béatrice Foucher at the presentation of the DS 4 last year in Chantilly, where she presented the strategy of DS Autombiles at the “DS Week” event…
DS Automobiles is carving a fine niche for itself in the premium segment. Your servant appreciates the refinement, comfort and last but not least the style of these fine DS automobiles. You can understand that we were delighted to meet Mme Béatrice Foucher at the presentation of the DS 4 in the “DS week” last year in Chantilly. Then, the entire press presentation of this noble automobile was in line with its qualities: we were not only able to meet Mme Béatrice Foucher personally at dinner, together with the communications people of the brand at lunch, we also had interesting workshops with the designers, engineers and last but not least the craftsmen and artists who make the DS 4 into the hand made four wheeled gem it is. You can read more about this event in our columns, see https://autoprova.be/2021/09/05/we-had-a-first-drive-with-the-elegant-ds-4-the-electrified-future-has-arrived-at-ds-automobiles/
At the Brussels Salon this year, we were again invited to have an interview with her. Just read further…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
A prototype of the DS 4 was displayed in Chantilly, symbol indeed of French “Savoir faire”…
HKtb: I have to congratulate you on your client approach and your philosophy to extend the refinement of your cars, not only in its external styling, but also in the interior.
BF: Indeed, that is our “raison d’être”, it is a combination of technology and the French “savoir faire” or know-how. Indeed, after having admired the exterior, customers must open the door of our cars, like for instance the DS4, see the new leather, the new solutions in the interior we developed in the DS3, the new DS7. From the next year onwards, we are going to create what we call collections, like there exist in the world of fashion.
The stunning interior of the DS prototype seen last year in Chantilly. Look at the contours and wood lined finish of the seats. A harbinger of things to come?
HKtB: We see here on the Salon, the very stylish DS E-Tense Performance 600 kW prototype, are there details of this car we will see in the production models?
BF: This will be more for the exterior than the interior, its bodywork lines which will be seen on our cars from 2024 onwards.(See our photo below of this prototype)
HKtB: But you emphasize the “savoir faire” Français, the French art of life…in automotive mobility.
BF: Indeed, that’s it. This lies in the materials we use, the art of treating them and producing exquisite textures. The French know-how in terms of stock market value lies now in the companies producing luxury goods, who have an established international reputation. This know-how is internationally recognized and appreciated, and this we put into our cars. Indeed, we see the car as a part of the interior one lives in, a part of one’s private home, and so the satisfaction and the reason people buy our cars is this choice of materials which appeals to them.
The reasons why our clients buy a DS is first of all the design, both as well exterior as interior, as this is a car which tells something about them. The second element is the elegance and the luxury and last but not least, the comfort. These are the three aspects which make people purchase a DS. The level of satisfaction is very high; clients are very pleased with their choice.
HKtB: Are your clients mostly women?
BF: No! When we look at the statistics, we have the same share of male clients than the other premium brands, even for the DS3, which appeals only slightly more to women. The reason why our clients buy a DS is because it’s a French premium brand, they like a different car in this premium segment, and indeed, the (male) clients show the car to their spouses, they enter the car, and they fall for it. So indeed we have a female clientele “on the second row”, they have a strong influence in the choice of the car which doesn’t show in the statistics.
HKtB: When cars are too feminine, women (and men) don’t necessarily buy it…
BF: Indeed, but as soon as the cars embody a social statement, as premium cars do, the (sexual) codes are not important. We put forward the codes of “savoir faire” Français, of luxury, of refinement, which appeals to both men and women.
HKtB: Indeed, a Cartier watch also appeals to men…
HKtB: The successes of your involvement in the Formula E racing does not really translate into the image of the brand…it did not create the “Audi” effect.
BF: You mentioned Audi. Now their Quattro was a car entering in rallies with iconic figures behind the wheel. Rallies are very popular. We are a young brand, dating from 2014, we chose the Formula E because it tells the story of our brand, with its fast and early move towards electrification. Formula E is not as popular as F1 for example, but it is iconic and indeed quite amusing and interesting.
I mention also here that the DS 7 360 or the DS9 is built by the DS Performance team. This means that besides the drivetrain which is shared with Peugeot, everything else is specific, it has a unique “feel” on the road and offers an exceptional handling. We also optimized the regeneration also on this car, which clients consider important. But indeed, we don’t have decades of sporting history to tell here…
HKtb: Also the typical DS client is not the one who drives (very) fast or seeks the ultimate in performance…
BF: Indeed, this is what we want, and that’s the reason why we call it also “the art of the voyage”. The quality of the time you spend in the car is important. The satisfaction enjoying the comfort of a car being surrounded by noble materials. Of course, you have not less than 360 HP. I can use them if I want it, but what is offered here with this car to me is comfort and refinement. One has more than enough power at hand, but it is not an issue.
HKtb: Are your clients young, and is connectivity important for them?
BF: Our clients are not young, which is the case for all premium brands, if one looks at the B to C statistics, they are between 58 and 60 years old, the B to B is younger, from 45 to 50 years, let’s say. Everybody wants to be seen as an amateur of technology, being a “technophile”, because one thinks that if you don’t love technology, you are missing out. So everyone wants a car which is up to this. It is a social statement of modernity. I tell to my teams, the value of a car is nowadays 50 % hardware and 50 % software.
HKtB: This digitalization takes still further steps, like is shown by BMW with its “Neue Klasse” with screen wide displays and dashboard instrumentation and touch knobs and buttons reduced to the minimum, as the underlying digital menus are doing the rest.
BF: Our philosophy is very clear and we showed it also on our concept car, it is to say that what makes the value of our cars is that when you open the door, you have the impression to enter in a Bugatti. We have refinement, savoir faire, and this we want to stress even more in the future. Of course we consider also the increasing digital infotainment needs, as a modernist social statement, but we want this digital element to disappear when the client wishes so. If you enter the car, there is nothing on the screen. Only when you put the contact, the screen appears. That is our philosophy and our goal. Because at a certain point, showing a plethora of screens is not premium. The faculty of having the information appear and again discreetly disappear is premium. This is the direction in which we work. Of course, we need the technology to make this happen.
HKtb: What I would also look for in future DS automobiles is incredible sound…
BF: We made a partnership with Focal, installed in our higher equipment versions like the Rivoli line, which reaches already very good sound quality… of course we have now more silent, electrified or fully electrified cars, which makes this even more important. Everybody works on this, and we also work with partners who have built an enviable reputation in pure sound management. You will see more in the future…
HKtb: When I travel on a motorway, in a certain region, I would like to tune in on my sound system for cultural, historic or general information about where I travel.
BF: This fits in our philosophy of cultivating “the art of the voyage”, and this is also want the digitalization to bring us. My name I Beatrice, and I want to know about the culture, or art places to visit in the region or city where I travel. This is what connectivity should give me.
HKtb: I thank you for this interview.
Hans Knol ten Bensel