PSA premium brand DS is planning hybrid and electric performance models in the future, according to DS brand CEO Yves Bonnefont, speaking to just-auto at the Geneva Motor Show.

“We – as DS – want to be strong in hybrid and electric high performance cars,” he said. At Geneva DS showed the E-Tense Concept, a high-end 402 bhp electric sports car concept, which Bonnefont said shows the direction the brand wants to go in.

“We have completed phase 1 of the brand launch strategy – that was delivered product-wise with the new DS 3 presented in the Louvre in January. Phase 2 is symbolised by the E-Tense concept,” he maintains. “It’s a real car, can do 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds. This is not the kind of performance a concept car usually has.” 

Could E-Tense make it into production? “Today we have not decided to make a production version. If we did, it would have a price probably above EUR250,000. It would be a very high level.

“It does, however, have all the attributes of the car we want to do next. We – as DS – want to be strong in hybrid and electric high performance cars.

“We believe that is the powertrain of the future, it gives pleasure to drive, is responsible for the planet, for the future. It is also consistent with all the regulations that we may see in large cities. We want to go in that direction.”

Bonnefont also said that DS will be concentrating this year on building its distribution network. “We have huge ongoing work to create DS stores and DS salons throughout Europe, in order to be able to give our customers the true DS experience. This will be a big focus in 2016.”

China accounted for 21% of the DS brand’s 102,000 sales and is the single largest sales region after Europe. “I think China will overtake France as the biggest DS national market soon. We are building DS brand with two feet, one foot in Europe and the other in China. Those are the two priorities and then we have our 200-cities strategy to develop internationally in the rest of the world.”

Are there differences between DS consumers in France and those in China? Bonnefont agrees that there are (Chinese liking more rear legroom, for example), but believes the brand has to be focused on a strong global image in the long-run. “The more high-end your products and brand are, the more global you tend to be. One reason is that premium customers travel a lot around the world – usually for business – and if they identify differences in the way the brands are positioned, they don’t understand that and it sends the wrong message. It is very important to have global positioning for the brand that is very consistent. We pay attention to significant market differences where they exist [there is a stretched wheelbase DS 4 in China] but we have to be careful with the global brand – that has to be positioned the same way all around the world.”

See also: PSA DS brand targets Iran opportunity