PSA/Peugeot-Citroen is widening its DS range of luxury vehicles to rival Volkswagen AG's Audi as well as BMW AG with its lower-priced French alternatives. For one, the company is ramping up production of DS4 compact.
It is also set to launch the DS5 midsized crossover by the end of 2011 after the success of the DS3 city car. Furthermore, the vehicle manufacturer brought back the 56-year-old DS name last year to boost the profit of the Citroen brand by manufacturing pricier vehicles with the same components and production facilities as its mass-market units.
The DS3, which was launched in March 2010 to rival BMW's Mini models, registered 110,000 deliveries in 16 months, outperforming its original production goal by almost 50 percent. The recently introduced DS4 goes up against the A3 of Audi.
Michel Garet, a Paris-based advertising consultant who traded his Audi A1 for the latest Citroen model in July, commented that for years, he was stuck to German cars until the DS4 won him over. He said that the steering “felt precise,” and the finish quality was “astonishing."
The technical advances such as the swiveling headlamps and hydraulic suspension, as well as the space-age curves of the original DS model, made it popular among the French elite after it was introduced in 1955, It also became a cult car in many other countries.
Owners of the model included the actress Brigitte Bardot, the French President Charles de Gaulle, and the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. PSA, which aims to recapture some of that cache, will not have an easy time outperforming German automakers at the luxury vehicle market.
Audi and BMW have broader product lineups, specialized sales networks and decades of experience for their upscale vehicles. When it comes to size categories that the first trio of DS vehicles covered, BMW and Audi currently offer around a dozen models, including coupes and convertibles.