A well-placed source tells AUTOMOBILE that PSA Peugeot Citroën will confirm that its premium DS brand will enter the U.S. market, in a much-anticipated international expansion plan announcement scheduled for Tuesday, April 5. Citroën unveiled its separated DS lineup at the 2015 Geneva auto show, and launched it first in China in 2016. The international expansion plan also is expected to include Iran.
We hope to learn from that announcement details and timing for the French brand’s return to North America. Citroën left the U.S. market in 1974, the same year Michelin sold its controlling interest in the avant-garde automaker to Peugeot, which itself withdrew from the U.S. in 1991.
Citroën announced it would break off DS into its own premium brand in 2014. In October of that year, about six months ahead of the Geneva show launch of the brand, DS CEO Yves Bonnefont told Automotive News Europe of Citroën’s ambitious plan to re-enter the U.S.
So far, the DS brand in China consists of the DS3 two-door and DS4 four-door hatchbacks, the DS4 Crossback crossover, DS5 four-door hatchback, DS 5LS compact sedan, and DS6 crossover. DS also showed its E-Tense electric sports car concept (pictured above) at the 2016 Geneva show. It’s likely the DS brand would enter the U.S. market with the same lineup as in China, and possibly with the addition of a sports car halo. We are not likely to get current DS models, however, as the Citroën DS3 hatchback has been on the market since 2010. We don’t know whether the current Citroën DS lineup has been “protected” in its original design, to meet U.S. crash standards.
In Europe and China, the DS brand consists of Citroën models with top-spec interiors and appointments, and its own front grille design with a unique “DS” badge. Engines across the lineup include diesels, a gas turbo 1.2-liter inline-three and a gas turbo 1.6-liter inline-four, plus hybrid versions. The 1.6-liter turbo engines are rated 163 hp and in DS3 Racing “hot hatch” trim, 200 horsepower.
The Citroën DS3 also is known for its two-tone paint schemes and accessory graphics that recall Mini Cooper models since BMW’s ownership.
In China, the DS lineup has a base price range of $30,990 to $46,825, based on March 31 exchange rates. For reference, Buicks sold in China – the U.S. equivalent models, and not the cheaper rebadged Opels – retail for about $21,000 for a base Verano to nearly $79,000 for a top-spec Enclave. The newly redesigned LaCrosse is $35,000 to $52,700.
For the U.S. market, a base price range of roughly $25,000 to $40,000 seems likely. Launching here with the premium brand rather than mainstream Citroëns means better profit margins, making a business case for annual sales in the low five figures easier for PSA to swallow.
Citroën faces plenty of challenges, however, not the least of which is establishing a dealer network. Globally, PSA has alliances with Toyota, with which it has jointly developed an A-segment city car, and with Mitsubishi, which supplies electric i-MiEVs rebadged as the Citroën C-Zero. In the U.S., at least, the trend has been to break up dualled dealerships. Premium brands, especially, are typically not allowed to share showroom facilities with brands from non-related automakers.