Better late than never: an impressive rescue effort is afoot at Peugeot and Citroen’s Australian operations, with distribution of both French brands to shift from their current management at Sime Darby Motor Group to Inchcape Australia – the local importer of Japanese brand Subaru – by July 2017.
In what appears to have been a dramatic intervention from Paris by Peugeot and Citroen’s parent company, PSA, Sime Darby’s distribution agreement has not been renewed. Instead, distribution rights will be sold and transferred to Sydney-based Inchcape in an asset transfer estimated to be complete within just two months.
PSA’s dissatisfaction with the performance of Peugeot and Citroen in Australia has long been rumoured. Indeed, the stagnation and decline of Peugeot in Australia under Sime Darby and previous importer Ateco – from nearly 9,000 sales in 2007 to just 3,129 ten years later, a 65% slump – could no longer be ignored.
In the same period, Inchcape has overseen consistent growth of the Subaru brand, with sales rising 22% from 38,445 units to 47,018 cars between 2007 and 2017.
Peugeot’s new 3008: the Australian launch can’t go to waste.
In April, we called for Peugeot – and whoever would be distributing and marketing Peugeot in Australia – to ensure the opportunity of launching of the brand’s new 3008 SUV was not squandered. Strong overseas praise for the 3008, and its suitability to the SUV-hungry Australian market – meant that a soft launch would not be sufficient to make an impact.
It appears that PSA agree, and shifting the Australian distributorship to Inchcape is a solid initial step to rebuilding the reputation of Peugeot and Citroen with Australian buyers.
Stefan Bomhard of Inchcape told Australian media that “PSA[’s] product pipeline is exciting, relevant and offers great growth potential in the Australian market.” An understatement, we believe. The 3008 – and existing solid products like the 208 and 308 – should perform far better than they do given their quality compared to many of their mainstream rivals.
Sime Darby don’t sound too disappointed to let the distributorship go, with the decision made to divest based in an increased interest in the retail, rather than importing, automotive business, Sime Darby’s Patrick McKenna said.
The first launch under the Inchcape regime will be that of the 3008 after the operations transfer is complete in a few months.
Peugeot’s Paris headquarters