French Car Companies to Storm German Market

By Brendan Moore

09.12.2007

Frankfurt: Renault, Peugeot and Citroen are making it clear at the Frankfurt Auto Show that they are going after the German market hammer and tongs. The German market is the both the biggest and most profitable market in Europe and the German market’s demanding consumers are simultaneously affluent and cost-conscious. German buyers are the ones that set the standards for the rest of Europe in terms of a car’s performance, technology level, handling and comfort options. Basically, to lift a phrase from the song “New York, New York”, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere, at least as far as Europe is concerned.

Renault Laguna

Renault has even gone so far as to state at the Frankfurt show that the new Renault Laguna was designed specifically to please and delight the German consumer. It is the company’s first effort in the market segment for cars that cost over 27,000 euros ($37,400 USD).

“Our German marketing man was present at all main meetings that I presided for this car,” Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn said. “He told us what he believed the German buyer would expect and like.””The Laguna is very important here in Germany. There will be no improvement in the image of Renault if we don’t succeed in Germany,” Renault Patrick Pelata stated during a briefing here at the IAA.”We do not have big ambitions in volumes but a very big ambition in terms of quality,” he said. “If we succeed with Laguna, we will also succeed with the new Megane and the new Espace,” he added, referring to Renault’s biggest-selling mass-market model and its large MPV.

Renault’s dealers in Germany have suffered mightily over the last two years because of product drought, but the company went to great lengths to point out that 12 new models would be introduced in Germany over the next 12 months, thereby ending the drought with a flood.

Over at PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, CEO Christian Streiff was singing from the same hymn book, but more loudly, as he not only expressed the desire to move more product in Germany, but also declared that he intended to use the German auto industry as a role model for the changes needed at the chronically under-achieving PSA.

As an example of this push, Citroen Managing Director Gilles Michel is leading a so-called “Germany Plan” for the group as well as heading a linked drive to improve after-sales services for the carmaker as a whole. As Germany goes, the rest of the company will follow.

Citroen C6

The company intends to use the Citroen C6 as a way to wedge itself back into the German luxury car market, but so far sales have not met expectations. The large C6 has met with mixed reviews all over Europe to this point. It is a car that is not for everyone, but a car that engenders strong affection among its owners.

Almost as if to accentuate that fact, Michel stated that although Citroen is going do its best to sell more cars in Germany, Citroen will always remain a French car designed to meet French sensibilities. He said the Citroen has no intention of trying to make a German car.

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Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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7 Comments

  1. If the German is that tough, does that mean that the American market is even tougher, since none of the French car companies are here in the American market?

  2. The American market is the toughest market in the world because of it’s size and the competition. It’s not because the majority of people that buy cars here are as discerning as the majority of German buyers.

  3. French cars are best appreciated by French people so I think they should just keep them over there. Don’t want them in America.

  4. The French will meet defeat in the German market

  5. I just can’t see a French car putting up big numbers in Germany. The Germans like German cars, then Italian cars, then Japanese cars. French cars have a tough time here. Peugeot sedans were fairly popular here in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties, but that has pretty much gone away at this point.

  6. Don’t like German cars at all. too stodgy, lacking style. French carmakers are now making the best cars in the world. Small-minded Americans will miss the boat again.

  7. I want to buy a French car here in America. Let’s get them over here ASAP!

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