THE WEEK - PSA's DS brand under the microscope

By Graeme Roberts | 3 February 2017

The China-only DS4S looks a lot more premium both inside and out than the DS4 line sold elsewhere

The China-only DS4S looks a lot more 'premium' both inside and out than the DS4 line sold elsewhere

What must PSA Groupe do to turn the DS brand around? We asked. And answered this week with an in-depth exploration of future model strategy in the first in a series concerning the French automaker's passenger car brands. It's been a very popular read but it's lengthy so pull up a cup (or glass, it's Friday) of your favourite beverage and get comfortable first.

"PSA Group has either overlooked or chosen to tackle head on one essential fact: time and again, buyers the world over have rejected the idea of French cars as expensive models. Perhaps taking a long term position, that might change with DS. So far, though, even the brand's most ardent admirers would hesitate to call it a success," we opine. I must admit to being somewhat underwhelmed by a DS model I tried, the DS4 Crossback. I go back far enough to have been friends with a dealer who sold and serviced the long lived, 1950s-launched DS, the futuristic looking model often called the 'Goddess', now sought after by the enthusiastic (and brave, if they are going to tackle the mechanicals) classic car fraternity. The DS4 Crossback, in contrast, was a mundane C-segment hatchback styled to look like a crossover with oddities like non-opening rear door windows (does no one at DS have children?) and said rear doors' window frames shaped at the trailing edge to spear the unwary (of a certain height) in an eye if left open. A passable car in terms of the usual volume C-segment hatchback attributes but premium? Nah. Especially not with that very ordinary interior (though recent developments at sibling Peugeot bring hope for future models).

Results - financial and unit sales - continued to come in this week and one popular story was about VW once again being top global automaker by volume, after Toyota had held pole position for a while. Given the ongoing 'dieselgate' throughout 2016, I imagine it was trebles all round at Wolfsburg HQ once the numbers were in. Daimler, which seems to launch a new Mercedes model every week, was rewarded with a nice start to 2017 after booking record sales and financials for 2016 and Our Man in South Korea (also check out his 2016 ASEAN review) reported in with ongoing uninspiring sales there despite some nice new models. Meanwhile, our US analyst reported better-than-expected sales.

We learned that McLaren is working with OEMs on 'new combustion technology' and Kia has plug-in alternatives ready to offer should buyers start getting iffy about diesel (the zingy new, clean 1.4 in the Rio launched here in England this week might well keep them with oil burners, though). GM and Honda announcing a fuel cell JV also attracted plenty of just-auto readers this week, too.

On the supplier front, there was bad news - a fire disrupting production at an interiors plant and better news from one of the automakers hit by the break in supply. Bosch announced a settlement in the US in connection with VW's 'dieselgate' and Denso announced a blip in nine-month sales and an uptick in profit.

Have a nice weekend.

Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor, just-auto.com