The CC Effect™ is sometimes startlingly powerful. On a whim, I reposted an oldie titled “Remember When You Could Buy a French Car In The US?” And this morning I open autonews.com and see that the top article is “Peugeot brand will lead PSA’s return to US”. It was well known since 2016 that PSA was coming back to North America, but hadn’t decided with which brand (Citroen, Opel, DS, Peugeot). They did a bit of market research and surprise…Peugeot had the highest brand awareness of the four in the US. All of sixteen Americans remembered Peugeot!.
I’m kidding. Somewhat. Actually, what they found was that there are over 1500 Peugeots still registered in the US (probably all vintage 404s with a few 403s and 504s). And here’s the kicker: Alabama had the highest concentration! And who did that research?
From the article:
“Even though Peugeot left in 1991 … the awareness of the brand and the opinion of the brand are still strong,” Dominique said. “So, we have a strong starting point with which to start the discussion with consumers.”
And some details about how and when it’s going to happen:
When PSA begins selling its cars in the U.S., it will be via an unconventional path.
“With a greenfield opportunity, we can think about the business in a very different way,” Dominique said. “How can we be more asset-light, how can we be more agile, how can we embrace this new digital economy, while delivering the kind of experiences that consumers expect?”
Last year, PSA said it had narrowed to 15 states and four Canadian provinces its top picks as possible points of entry for sales. Those states have customers who are willing to buy imports and represent 62 percent of the nation’s vehicle sales, PSA said.
“Taking the time to do it the right way — launching the product when you’re ready, building the business and scaling it as you develop success, is the way we want to approach the market,” Dominique said. “That way you don’t make the mistakes a lot of companies do, by rushing in, over-leveraging and then having to push metal, and that’s not a sustainable business.”
PSA is in the process of homologating Peugeots for the U.S. market, which is a multiyear process.
“We have given ourselves a 10-year horizon, starting in 2016, in which to launch retail in North America,” Dominique said. “If we can do it earlier than that, we’ll do it when it’s appropriate.”
This is going to be interesting to watch. Needless to say, the obstacles are huge.What exactly will the unique selling proposition be?
Once upon a time, Peugeots stood for exceptional durability. That’s essentially a non-starter anymore.
I’m struggling to see this work well, but stranger things have happened.
Peugeot lasted almost 15 years longer in the US than Citroen or Opel (ignoring the Isuzu “Opel”) so it’s no surprise that more people recognize the Peugeot name.
While researching my Brown, Diesel, RWD, stickshift wagon article, I spent a bit chatting with the folks on the North-America-centric Peugeot forums. There aren’t many of them, but they are loyal! And while there may be 1500 Peugeot still registered, I think each member has a few parts cars around 🙂
And I think most of them have 504, 505, and 604 models, but there might be a few 4XX left.
I saw an early-70s Citroen DS wagon on the road a few weeks ago, but that’s the only PSA product I’ve seen in at least a decade.
I’ve never even heard of DS until now.
Holy mackerel! Just this morning I said if they came back I’d consider one. My diesel 504 is gone but not forgotten. I may have to put my $ where my mouth is yet! I hope the new Pugs will have the qualities intrinsic to those old 404s and 504s of yore. It’s inevitable that electrification is the direction that’s guiding future automotive technology, so wouldn’t be a total surprise if that becomes their schtick, even SAAB is coming back as NEVS, (Sven in reverse lol!), at least to the China market first, and later, to Europe.
I hope the new Pugs will have the qualities intrinsic to those old 404s and 504s of yore.
Sorry, but they don’t.
To be expected I guess, but an amazing ride and wonderful seats, one of the unique qualities of French cars, is do-able, however whether or not they pursue that avenue is another story. The rhino-toughness might be a stretch. They must differentiate in some way to succeed
The best thing about Peugeot now, and the strongest link to cars like the 504, is their diesel engines, which are going the way of the dodo.
Not that I dislike modern Peugeots – I’d love a diesel, manual 308 or 508 wagon – but presumably those will not be offered, and at any rate this venture seems doomed to me.
Wow, the CC effect is some strong stuff!
You raise the key question – what will Peugeot bring to the table that is not getting served right now? I’m not seeing it, unless the answer to the question is “something French.”
I would love to see them succeed. Unfortunately, my uninformed guess as of the moment is that it will be a combination of relatively expensive for what you get and with less-than-stellar reliability/durability as well as something that you cannot get fixed if you move to Iowa or Kansas. But I hope I am wrong.
Wow, this sure is surprising news thank you for enlightening us. I did not realize there were 1,500 Peugeots left in the country. I occasionally see one in Portland though it has been a bit. Any way for a regular Joe to research how many cars of a certain type are left in the US?
Here’s the perfect Peugeot for the US….Oh, wait…
Will the Ram ProMaster NEVER get that good a front end? (Still has the same basic look from 2014; 2019 model shown)
I’d bet they get a lot of pressure from big fleet buyers like the delivery companies and utilities not to change the fasica, as that would mean extra parts to stock. When the army gave Dodge a multi-year contract for militarized civilian pickups in the 70’s, they weren’t happy when Dodge changed the grille design a year or two in.
The NA Promaster is made in Mexico, and the smaller volumes apparently don’t justify the new fascia.
French vehicles have a bit more North American presence than may think. I believe the Nissan NV van is actually a Renault for the most part. Not to mention, some of the Micra sedans share Renault origins. Check the glass in the corners for the evidence.
Come to think of it, the next generation will probably be available as a Fiat, Peugeot, Citroën, Opel, Vauxhall and Ram…
Didn’t FIAT jump out of Sevel? Or was it only Sevel Nord?
if the whole Sevel JV got bought out by PSA, then I’d say the next Boxer would be available as Peugeot, Citroën, Opel, Vauxhall
Sevel Sud (Ducato/Boxer/Jumper) will continue, at least till 2027, so I’ve read. Also, probably a whole new generation next year.
“Asset light…how can we be more agile?”
Mobile dealerships like the one Herman Munster bought Marilyn’s Chevy from. Pulled up stakes and drove off inventory as soon s they made a sale. Maybe dealerships that work out of semi trucks and only carry three cars in stock with a roving service van to chase customers?
Can the return “Columbo” of be far behind?
Who will play him though, and what model will he drive? What will the villains drive now there are no Silver Shadows and SL Panzerwagens?
Mark Ruffalo. No brainer.
If only that car could had been reliably coaxed into traveling 10 miles per day, day in/day out.
It always bemused me how French cars could do so well in Europe….and so poorly in America.
If only that car could had been reliably coaxed into traveling 10 miles per day, day in/day out.
I’m not sure what you’re trying to say.
It always bemused me how French cars could do so well in Europe….and so poorly in America.
Peugeot did reasonably well here for several decades.
But to answer your question a bit more directly, it’s undoubtedly because French cars had qualities the French (and some other Europeans) could relate to. They sure didn’t design them with Americans in mind. Unlike the Japanese, and the Germans.
The sour automotive joke in various automotive repair shops of the 1980’s was that “French Reliability” was a contradiction of terms.
The French cars of old were praised for their big, comfortable seats and smooth ride, both things many Americans liked in their homegrown cars. I somehow doubt this is still the case though, it’s evidently more important to have 20″ wheels.
It’s not the case to the same extent, but modern Peugeots are still quite comfy. Except bargain bucket jobs like the 107.
I have immensely improved the comfort and ride quality in a couple of Japanese pick up trucks by transplanting French car seats into them.
Putting aside any real, or perceived, idiosyncrasies of the classic RWD Peugeot’s, they … like Saab’s, RWD Volvo’s, and Alfa’s had distinct attributes that defined the brand. Perhaps only BMW passenger cars have that today. Everything else, including modern Peugeot’s and Volvo’s and Alfa’s, is just a variation on a generic FWD platform. Perhaps that’s just me being curmudgeonly, but the old Peugeot’s were roomy, soft-riding, and structurally rugged. Volvo’s, ditto, though trading a bit of ride comfort for performance (twin SU B18 era Volvo’s). Alfa, less roomy, less rugged, but precise steering on skinny tires and torquey smooth engines. Each had a character that was unique to the brand. Even when Fiat came back, the 500 had distinctive styling and was “cute”. Modern Peugeot’s may be fine cars, but I don’t see any unique selling proposition either. But we’ll see …
No current Alfa sold in the US is FWD.
Thanks for educating me. Despite having owned two ‘70’s Alfa’s I’ve mostly stopped following modern “exotics”, so I had just assumed the Giulia was based on an FWD platform … essentially an updated 164. Thanks for pointing out the error of my ways. I have nothing against FWD, have owned many of them, but starting with the Alfasud, I’ve always felt Alfa’s should be RWD.
20 or 25 years ago I used to see an immaculate green 304 wagon in the downtown of Seattle’s Ballard district. A couple of acquaintances of mine also had 304’s but no longer do. I expect there are few if any 304’s left in the States.
I would take this for an April Fools joke, I don’t recall anyone bemoaning the lack of French cars in the North American Market.
Maybe PSA will step into the void left by VW when they abandon fossil fuel?
The new 208 was just revealed a couple of days ago over here in Europe, it’s gone down pretty well on most of the car websites… there is an electric plug in version too and there will no doubt be a GTi sports model to hark back to the classic 205 GTi.
Yep, this is the car Peugeot needs in America.
Yes, as we know how hot the market it for little hatchbacks in the US.
So “Real World” correct, Paul.
Little hatchbacks make wonderful cars. I must be one of those coastal elites.
An electric 208 looks sweet. Over 200 mile range. France should be crazy about electric cars. Their total energy mix is 50% carbon-free, 40% nuclear. French electricity is 3/4 nuclear. They took the right path in the 1970s and stayed on it.
Got me thinking…the French have achieved the nuclear car!
That’s the point of EVs, change your electricity source and you’re changing all the EVs’ fuel source. French electricity is 75% nuclear, so voila! Nuclear cars. C’est magnifique.
It was a dream of the 1950s, like this Ford Nucleon.
That would have given a whole new meaning to a traffic meltdown!
That is a nice looking little hatchback.
Oh good — my next minivan could be a Peugeot Traveller!
I’d love to see the details of those 1,500 Peugeots roaming around the US. My guess is that about a quarter of them are owned by a half dozen Peugeot hoarders.
I haven’t seen one here in New Orleans since the early 1990’s.
From my viewpoint, Peugeot in the US will have, in addition to a likely lack of recognition, difficulty overcoming the “fragile French” as opposed to “sturdy German” image that most likely would travel with them.
Modern Peugeots are perfectly decent cars (my wife loves her 207CC) but would have little USP against a VW, Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota et al, even if the recent style upgrade has been welcome, and successful. But they will not bring the reputation of a VW, BMW or M-B.
Peugeot talk of an alternative route to market and distribution – that will be interesting to see as well.
But unlike in Britain, VW’s American reputation is one of horrendous unreliability, not solidity. BMW and Mercedes not much better.
The big downside is that Americans tend to harbour more dislike/distrust of the French people than the Germans, and I suspect that is reflected in how they view their cars.
Coincidentally I had a conversation about that with a 2nd generation Swedish-Minnesotan colleague last week, and we both agreed that anti-French sentiment in the US is all the fault of the English. Just kidding (sort of 😉 )
…hadn’t decided with which brand (Citroen, Opel, DS, Peugeot). They did a bit of market research and surprise…Peugeot had the highest brand awareness of the four in the US.
Around 1980, a survey was done to determine how the Alliance was going to be badged. The survey said Renault had a better quality reputation than AMC.
When PSA bought Opel, Tavares said he did it to get the Opel brand, because “some people will not buy a French car”.
It probably would have helped if the Opels brought to the US over the last 45 years had been badged as Opels, instead of Cadillacs, Saturns and Buicks.
My Father’s (and later my) long suffering foreign car mechanic strongly assured me that if I ever tried to bring a French car into his shop that he would slam the garage door down on the car’s hood, just as hard as he could swing it down.
I took that as a subtle hint.
I wouldn’t touch any new Peugeot or Citroen with someone else’s 50 foot pole. Facebook marketplace/ebay/gumtree are full of low mileage, not far out of warranty Peugeots and Citroens with failed transmissions, engine problems, and/or electrical issues like faulty power windows. The business I work for recently bought a couple of Citroen Berlingo vans and they are some of the flimsiest, lowest quality cars I’ve ever been in. I’ll be very surprised if they manage to make it to the end of the warranty period without a catastrophic failure, in addition to several dozen minor issues.
I can relate the Oz experience, where they never left. The 205 Gti was coveted, but sold little. The 306 was respected. But for years after that, everything they sold was a blot on the landscape. Usually an actual blot, as in clogging the traffic with a breakdown. My god, some of them were ugly. (Just check out the 407 coupe on Google, I dare you). I drove an ’05-ish 207 diesel a bit (a most unreliable car for the owner), and it didn’t even handle or ride well. They’re said to have picked up the quality game, and the driving one, in more recent models, and for sure the looks are vastly less offensive.
Most Aussies, however, say “non”, and PSA has a wondrous .5 of 1% of the new car market. I know these are common cars in Europe, where there’s everyday knowledge of how to fix them, but the Peug-Cit garage at the end of my street does a roaring trade. As it ever was, it’s the electricals and accessories that let them down. Oh, and the French haven’t a clue how to make an auto – the DP4 box fitted to every Cit and Pug and Renault is a jerky horror with about a 100K lifespan, and 6 speed replacement is hardly better.
In an age of the fundamental competence of all cars, there’d be no point at all in buying one over even a Korean brand in the US. There really is no USP any more, and quite a questionable downside.
Especially if purchased from some wankspeaking outfit who want to be “asset light” – what, are they only going to employ a lot of skinny people? Or perhaps “human resource deployment-efficient” and “flexible” (bugger-all staff who can be sacked overnight)? Or “lease-relieved” (no actual locations), so no repairs? Spare me. Gah, the world’s dripping with too many of these mind-insulting flim-flams today. And they’re winning. (I’d tell the bastards to get off my lawn, except they’d probably just try and sell it to me as a “eco greenspace for communal canine relief and meditation” and how dare I. But I’m digressing. Asset bloody light!)
If Pug does return, I’d recommend you don’t do it.
Good point about the automatics. Another fatal flaw for the US market.
Peugeots of the 2000s were rightly mocked in Top Gear – truly ghastly vehicles, with literally everything wrong, from styling to industry-topping unreliability.
They have apparently improved a bit in this decade. The Euro public seems to appreciate the new styling. I dislike it, but seem to be against the grain on this.
Old man has a 2008 diesel, which has had nothing going wrong for four years (not even the new fangled electrics like the touch screen) – not that this should be seen as a representative sample.
I see nothing, though, that would make them viable for the US. Two small crossovers and a couple of hatches with no USP – as you just stated above – over anyone else.
An insane looking Citroen would at least capture a few ex-SAAB owners, artsy types, and the like.
I Googled “407 coupe” – they look fine to me except perhaps for the smiley-face front that looks exactly like Mazda’s from several years back.
EDIT: and also those front gills that some of them have.
Speaking as a millennial Peugeot is the very last French car maker I would name if asked to name them. When I think of French cars here in the states I think of Citroen DS, SM, and 2CV first. I can instantly associate the distinct styling and engineering quirks to “French car”. Peugeot doesn’t have anything historically that I can come up with that remotely stands out in such a fashion, I’d list Renault closely behind Citroen too. (Note this is purely a matter of brand identity, NOT substance such as durability)
I’ll make a really embarrising admission to really drive the point home – I thought for years Peugeot was Italian, based on the Pininfarina styling used on the few 504s and 505s, they looked like period Fiats to me. I know, I am clearly not a linguist(you should have heard how I used to pronounce it!). But no one corrected me since no one I knew knew what the hell a Peugeot was to begin with.
I still don’t know if I’m pronouncing “Vauxhall” right
Buying another Japanese car was like pulling teeth with me. Somehow, l can’t stand the thought of driving a French car. Although, the automotive landscape is so homogeneous right now it makes no odds. My Mazda might as well be from any other auto maker.
So, if Peugeot does come back to the US, will we expect the following behavior?
Around 1988, my son was in a preschool carpool. One of the mothers drove a Peugeot sedan. When my wife got out of the car, the driver warned her, “Don’t slam the door , it’s a Peugeot!”