Citroen UK said this week there are four customer-friendly 'pillars' to its current three-year range rejuvenation programme: style, safety, technology and useful environment-friendly products.

The company could also add 'value for money' as its various models are very competitively priced when compared with rivals.

The automaker's UK unit has introduced a number of model range changes and new technology for 2005 in time for a new 'Spring Drive' sales campaign.

These include the Valeo-made Stop & Start low fuel consumption and low CO2 emission technology for a C3 variant, an automatic transmission option for the newly-launched C4 hatchbacks with 1.6 and two-litre petrol engines, the freshened C5 with lane departure warning system, speed limiter, directional headlights, and all-round parking sensors, the sporty 1.6-litre petrol engine C3 VTR, the low-cost C2 VTS with bottom end insurance group ratings for younger buyers and the new C2 Enterprise van with a 1.4-litre diesel engine aimed at business operators who want a low cost, high specification commercial vehicle for town deliveries.

Citroen sold 117,602 new cars in the UK in 2003. Last year the sales tally fell to 105,596 and is expected to fall still further this.

But insiders counter that this is in line with the UK's overall decreasing market and the fact that Citroen UK no longer chases non-profitable fleet or daily rental sales.

Nonetheless, the Citroen claimed to be the UK's second highest selling 'retail' brand last month.
 
Public affairs director Marc Raven said: "UK customers recognise Citroen as selling value for money cars because we are very up-front about our retail cashback offers. They are open and transparent and by promoting the value-for-money aspect in our advertising we have taken the doubt from the customers mind, its honest, they know exactly what they are going to get."

"Our retail customers are now buying more diesel powered cars out of choice because they like the quality of drive these engines give and this is reflected in our sales where 50% of the new cars we sell are diesel."

Diesels currently account for about 37% of the UK new car market.

In addition to about 100,000 passenger cars, Citroen sells around 25,000 light commercial vehicles in the UK each year.

Raven said: "The launch of the new C2 Enterprise van with its near 70mpg, 1.4-litre HDI diesel engine and group 1E insurance rating opens up a new area for Citroen. It now allows us to talk to a whole new range of commercial vehicle customers."

The van retails for £7,495 plus 17.5% VAT [tax] and dealer delivery.

Raven disputed suggestions that quarterly 'cashback' promotions had damaged Citroen's residual values.

He said: "You must compare the actual sale price the customer pays, not the official price list against the trade-in value. The rate of depreciation on our models is in line with our major competitors."

The new compact C1 city car, made in the Czech Republic in a joint venture with Citroen's PSA group sibling Peugeot, and Toyota, will go on sale in June. The new C6 flagship will arrive in the UK early next year.

Citroen UK currently has 220 dealers but another 50 locations are still 'open' - including one in the automaker's UK home town of Slough.