Citroen’s Thierry Koskas expects India to be second largest market in 5 years | Autocar Professional

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Thierry Koskas the global CEO of Citroën brand and Stellantis Chief Sales and Marketing Officer says “India can become its second biggest market worldwide”, for the French car brand in the next five years.

“Our biggest market is obviously our home country, France, where we sell 200,000 cars per year. And after that, we have other European countries. But I think that India has the potential, not now, but let’s say within five years, to become the second biggest market,” Koskas said in an interview with Autocar India.

If India attains the target, it could overtake Italy, its second-largest market at present, which sells about 1 lakh units annually.

While Koskas was non-committal on the specific volume target, if India were to scale up to number 2, the Citroen brand would have a sale of close to 1 lakh units.

On being asked reasons behind the optimism, he added, “Why? Because it’s a huge market. That’s the third biggest market in the world. And second, because we have the potential to grow and to be one of the great brands in the market.”

To be sure, Carlos Tavares, the Group Chairman of Groupe PSA then had shared that Citroen could potentially sell 1 lakh units sales by 2025 announcing the brand’s entry in 2019.  

Citroen was amongst the last major European brands to enter the Indian market in 2019 – in a short stint of four to five years – the company has had a very limited presence.

The brand’s go-to-market strategy of limited physical outlets and relying heavily on digital sales failed miserably.

Despite introducing mainstream products tailored for the Indian market, the vehicles were poor on specs and features and could barely compete resulting in three-digit sales for the last couple of years.

This is something that Koskas is working on addressing with its Indian colleague Aditya Jairaj, the MD of Stellantis India.

Koskas, who first visited the country 18 years ago, says he is amazed at how quickly the Indian market has evolved.

“Now the expectation of Indian customers is higher than European customers in terms of features. So, I think it’s a learning (experience) for everyone. The most important thing for us is to answer to these needs. Very soon you will see more features added to the cars.”

Koskas says Citroen is learning more from and about the Indian market.
“We need to work on brand awareness. Citroen is not well known. We will see concrete initiatives (on brand building) that we will be taking. We have very good word of mouth. But not enough customers to talk about the brand. We will heavily invest in the brand. There will be an ambassador that will represent the brand,” he said.  

Apart from adding new products, Citroen India is looking at adding more showrooms and outlets, expanding into Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns. The plan is to take the touchpoints to over 200 in the current year, which will help the brand address a larger market.

Koskas assured that India is very important for him to improve the overall business.

He informed that the manufacturing facility in Tiruvallur, on the outskirts of Chennai – which Citroen acquired from CK Birla Group’s Hindustan Motors in 2018 to enter India was already amongst the top 5 plants in the world.

On the way ahead, Koskas said Citroen has a “steady strategy” to build its brand.

 “We (plan to) introduce one new model every year and expand the network. We’ll move from 50 dealers to 200 dealers very soon. We will be introducing the fourth model in the market. We are also adding some features to the product. We will promote the brand more on TV and in the media. I’m very confident in the future that you will see more and more cars on the road,” he added.
 

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