Although the automobile business is stagnant, Peugeot sees no reason to change its ambitious European sales goals for this year.
"We are not planning to alter our targets," Automobiles Peugeot CEO Frédéric Saint-Geours said. He said Peugeot aims to "keep growing and winning market share in Europe."
Although Peugeot sales in the first quarter declined 7.4 percent compared with the same period in 2002, Saint-Geours said that wasn't really much of a problem because last year's figures were so strong.
Furthermore, incoming orders for May are showing a "positive tendency," and for this year there is the prospect of a rising demand for diesel versions of the 206 SW, the 307 CC and the 807 people-carrier. Also, Peugeot expects strong development in central and eastern Europe, where the brand has reached a 7.8 percent market share. In Poland alone, Peugeot sales increased 15 percent between January and March.
Peugeot is also expecting big increases in China. "This is why we have now agreed to an increase in production at the plant with our partner Dongfeng, in order to be able to produce 100,000 Peugeots a year there until 2007," said Saint-Geours. From 2004 a "completely new model on the basis of the 307" will also be built in China, probably a notchback sedan.
Saint-Geours is quite happy with recent progress of the brand in Germany, where Peugeot is hoping to reach a 3.85 percent market share.
"But this is still insufficient, because our presence in the German market is still significantly lower than our European average."
The targets from Paris are clear. In 2004 Peugeot has to reach a market share of 4.6 percent in Germany. Beyond that, Peugeot is aiming for 5 percent share by 2007 at the latest, because, according to Saint-Geours, Germany is "a reference market in Europe" with "global significance." He sees potential in expanding the dealer network, increasing fleet sales and stronger emphasis on compact and medium-size cars.
Saint-Geours said Peugeot will increase the use of diesel particulate filters. Even now, the sales share of its diesel engines equipped with particulate filters has reached around 40 percent, and in Germany about 80 percent.
He said Peugeot is working on increasing the lifespan of the filters and is also testing additive-free filters. All new Peugeot diesels will meet the Euro 4 emission requirements in the future. By August, Peugeot will offer two particulate filter-equipped diesels for the 307 with capacities of 1.6- and 2.0-liters.