Citroen has cautious sales goals for its new flagship, the C6, underscoring French carmakers’ doubts about their ability to woo customers with luxury sedans.
Citroen plans to sell 20,000-to-30,000 a year globally of its large-segment model during the car’s life cycle, said managing director Claude Satinet. A car’s life cycle averages about 6 years.
That sales goal is in sharp contrast with the 150,000 units a year that Citroen’s famed DS averaged during a 10-year run that ended in 1965. At the time, the DS was France’s sole luxury car, used by the French government and business elite.
“You can’t strictly compare the two, the upper segment has diversified since the DS,” Satinet told Automotive News Europe. “The DS is the C6 but also the C5, all rolled into one.”
Without Satinet’s insistence, it is unlikely the C6 would have been produced. “Perhaps the C6 needed a little bit more support [during preliminary discussions by PSA management] than other cars,” Satinet conceded. “The C6 obviously is more complex to make than other cars.”
But for all its modesty, Citroen’s sales target for the C6 appears realistic. In the large segment, Renault sold a mere 8,559 units globally of the Vel Satis last year. When it launched the car in 2002, its aim was to sell 50,000 a year.
Citroen sister Peugeot sold 17,057 607s last year, compared with a goal of 40,000 a year at its launch in 2000.
In the upper-medium segment, where the cars are slightly smaller than large-segment cars but sales are much higher, Citroen sold 97,859 C5s.
French carmakers say that when they sell premium models they deal with an entrenched customer bias in favor of German luxury sedans. They also cite the growing lure of luxury SUVs, especially from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Porsche and Volvo.
The French neglected the SUV segment for years. But now they are preparing to strike back. Citroen and Peugeot are expected to launch their first SUVs, built in cooperation with Mitsubishi, in 2007.