Paris Auto Show 2014: DS range will be solely SUV and sedans.

DS Divine Paris 2014DS Divine Concept Car

The Paris Auto Show kicked off a little over a week ago. I had the privilege to attend it and interview marketing reps from most French manufacturers. This is the first in a series of articles dedicated to the Paris Auto Show. We start with DS, since last June a stand-alone upscale brand aimed at topping off PSA/Peugeot-Citroen’s range. Since its launch in 2010 as a sub-brand of Citroen, DS sold 500,000 vehicles, 90% of which in Europe, but its European sales have started plateauing in the absence of any new model launch. PSA has advertised the brand’s aggressive launch in China where the DS5 along with two China-only models, the DS5 LS and DS6 SUV, are currently produced.

DS6 China October 2014. Picture courtesy of auto.sohu.comThe DS6 SUV just launched in China.

As I detailed in my STRATEGY series “What future for French manufacturers?”, turning DS a stand-alone brand makes strategic sense, but a very consistent and aggressive marketing, engineering and R&D push will be required in the long run to have any chance at seriously competing with Audi, Mercedes and BMW – a long-term goal for the DS brand. I interviewed Arnaud Ribault, the new Global Sales and Marketing Vice President for the DS brand, previously DS General Manager in China. Surprise, what started as a rather standard conversation about the sales performance and future prospects of the DS brand rapidly turned into a bewildering and quite amusing game of reading-between-the-lines guess work, with two main pieces of information somewhat contradicted by DS CEO Yves Bonnefont…

Citroen DS3 France April 2012It would appear the DS 3 will be killed in its current form to become a small SUV.

Extracts of the interview translated from French into English below.

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