Citroen is on target to record its best-ever sales year in New Zealand as it counts down to the launch of a car that typifies its pioneering approach to design.
Sales of 243 units for the six months to the end of June were up 76 per cent on the same period last year, a hike that exceeds all projections and reflects renewed interest in the French company’s product range.
Citroen divisional sales manager Simon Rose planned for sales growth this year of 450 units, up 50 per cent on last year’s total of 301. He admitted the target was ambitious, but now he’s running ahead of it.
“We had a fast start in January with record monthly sales of 50 units,” he said. “Since then sales have averaged almost 40 vehicles a month. Our dealers have done a wonderful job.”
The seeds for growth were planted late in 2012 when Rose swapped his Peugeot manager’s hat for a Citroen beret under PSA distributor Sime Derby. He grew sales last year by 21 per cent on 2012, while boosting the number of dealers in the country from five to 11. Dealer number 12 will be announced shortly.
Rose expects momentum to continue with the arrival this year of the C4 Picasso and C4 Cactus, both family cars. The Cactus is more SUV-like and perhaps one of the best examples in recent years of Citroen’s individuality.
For example, the front passenger airbag has also been built into the roof, which means the dash can be mounted lower down to provide a greater feeling of space inside. To save weight the rear windows pop out rather than winding down. The unusual plastic panels on the doors are there to protect Cactus from things like scratches from shopping trolleys.
Both Cactus and Picasso will be powered by conventional petrol and diesel engines, although further into production Cactus could be the first vehicle to get PSA’s so-called Hybrid Air drivetrain.
It combines conventional petrol engine and six-speed automatic gearbox with a hydraulic pump and motor powered by compressed air – rather than a battery – and returns a claimed fuel economy of better than 3 litres/100km, or 94mpg.