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Citroën aims to make India its second market within 5 years

The back of the Citroën Basalt

In 2019, Citroën announced its major return to the Indian market, with the firm intention of capitalising on the spectacular growth of this colossal market, destined to become one of the five most important in the short term. This announcement led to the launch of the C3 and C3 Aircross models, soon to be joined by the Basalt, marking the end of the brand's first development cycle in India. Despite the modest sales figures, Citroën remains resolutely ambitious and aims to make India one of its main markets over the next five years, even making it the second market for Thierry Koskas.

During his visit to India, the new brand director took the opportunity to announce some sales forecasts. Emphasising that India is a growing market that is likely to quickly become the third largest automotive market in the world, Thierry Koskas said: "India could become the second largest market for Citroën in the next five years." He added: "Our main market will of course remain our home country, France, where we sell 200,000 cars a year. Then there are other European countries. But I am convinced that India has the potential to become Citroën's second largest market within five years.

If Citroën achieves this goal, India could overtake Italy, currently the brand's second largest market with around 100,000 units sold each year. Although Thierry Koskas did not specify a specific volume target, his statement suggests that for India to become Citroën's second market, the brand will need to achieve sales of more than 100,000 units per year. Asked about the reasons for this ambition, Thierry Koskas said: "Because it is a huge market, the third largest in the world. Secondly, we have the potential to grow and become one of the leading brands in the market".

Citroën, the last European brand to enter the Indian market, has always taken a cautious approach, aware of the challenges it faces in an environment where profitability is crucial. The brand has acknowledged its mistakes, including initial products with shortcomings, combined with a limited distribution network, which led to lower-than-expected sales. Thierry Koskas is well aware of these challenges and since the beginning of the year has launched a series of improvements aimed at bringing the products into line with consumer expectations. A concrete example is the launch of an automatic gearbox and enhanced safety features next July. Having visited India for the first time 18 years ago, Koskas is surprised at how quickly the Indian market has evolved and points out that customer expectations are now higher than in Europe in terms of functionality. He emphasised the importance of meeting this growing need for functionality and promised new features to be added to vehicles in the near future.

Citroën is also aware of the need to strengthen its brand awareness in India. Thierry Koskas stressed that, despite good word-of-mouth, the brand lacks visibility among the general public. He announced concrete initiatives to develop the brand and plans to invest heavily in this area, in particular by appointing an ambassador to represent the brand.

Citroën India also plans to expand its distribution network by opening new showrooms and sales outlets in tier 2 and 3 cities. The aim is to increase the number of touch points to over 200 this year, thereby extending the brand's reach in the Indian market.

Underlining the strategic importance of India for Citroën, Thierry Koskas announced a stable strategy focused on the brand's growth. Citroën plans to launch a new model every year, expand its distribution network and step up its advertising activities, particularly on television and in the media.

In conclusion, Citroën's first foray into India has been a difficult one, with sales well below expectations. However, the arrival of Thierry Koskas marks a turning point, with an ambitious vision to make Citroën a key brand in India thanks to competitive products and a solid development strategy. By harnessing the potential of the Indian market, which is set to become the third largest automotive market in the world, the brand is positioning itself for significant growth, with the imperative of gaining credibility, a lesson learned after the initial challenges of the 2019 launch.

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