PSA thinks its U.S. dealers should spend less on building their retail stores when the French automaker returns to North America.
Although that market re-entry could still be years away, the company is studying ways to create a low-investment, high-margin retail network that takes overhead pressures off of the retail chain, its top North American executive said here Thursday.
"In the future, do we need to have 15-car showrooms? Do we need $10 million facilities?" PSA North America CEO Larry Dominique asked an audience at the J.D. Power Automotive Summit.
"The OEMs love to dictate to the dealers, 'You need to meet the individual standards. You need this much square footage, we want this much glass. The furniture has to look a certain way, with certain materials.'
"There's got to be a more flexible, more dynamic, lower investment, lower-throughput way to retain margin," Dominique told the dealer-heavy audience. "That's what we're studying and that's what we're looking for."
PSA, the umbrella company of Peugeot, Citroen and other European-oriented brands, last year declared that it will return to North America with a diversified mobility services enterprise. The automaker has launched Free2Move in the United States, an app that brings together various mobility services such as car sharing and ride hailing. But it ultimately intends to return as an import retailer for the first time since the early 1990s.
The specific plan for when and how PSA will resume North American retailing is still being contemplated. Dominique and his boss, PSA CEO Group Carlos Tavares, have not put a timetable on the resumption of auto sales here.
This month, in response to President Donald Trump's imposition of tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, Tavares said the levies might complicate PSA's return.
But speaking to the J.D. Power audience, Dominique said he did not believe that would happen, expressing confidence that trade issues would be worked out.
Dominique said PSA's return will not be as a traditional automaker.
"We want to live under the umbrella that we are a mobility provider," he said, referring to PSA's interest in car sharing and ride hailing. "If you want it for a minute or an hour, we have a solution for you. If you want it for several years, we have a solution for you." a