DS boss: “we have no idea how it’ll work in the UK”

A chief at Citroen’s DS division has told Motoring Research the separation of the brands in the UK will be a challenge.

The French manufacturer recently announced its DS brand would be splitting from the rest of the company in a bid to offer premium cars that would compete against those from German rivals.

But the vice president, products and business development for DS, Eric Apode, has suggested that it’ll be a case of seeing how it works in the UK.

Apode said: “The French don’t buy premium cars because there aren’t any premium French cars. We’re going to change that and we’re confident that standalone DS models will sell well in France.

“The UK is going to be more of a challenge. How can we compete against Jaguar Land Rover and the German manufacturers? You tell me.”

The DS chief said that the manufacturer was surprised how well the DS3 had been sold in the UK – and admitted that sales of the DS4 have been disappointing.

He said: “We were worried that it [the DS3] would be seen as a budget car.

“But sales are breaking every target we set. The DS4, however, has been really disappointing in the UK. We sold around 2,000 there last year. Maybe we should have made an SUV.”

DS brand ‘to experiment’

DS previewed the future of its range with the Divine concept at this year’s Paris Motor Show. It’s powered by the same turbocharged 270hp 1.6-litre engine that’s found in the Peugeot RCZ R, and doesn’t feature a rear window.

Apode added: “We have the freedom to experiment with DS. No other French manufacturer is doing it. [Peugeot Citroen boss] Carlos Tavares is really supportive. He’s not pushing numbers but he likes what we’re doing.”

DS has already been established as a separate brand to Citroen in China for the last six years. It’s selling 17,000 cars a year to the Chinese.

Apode said: “The Chinese love premium, French brands. Think Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton. That’s helped to sell DS in China.”