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Will Citroën become a low-cost brand?

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For many years now, Citroën has been facing a wind of rumours that it is becoming a low-cost brand, rumours to which the brand has been unable to respond and which are gradually gaining ground in public opinion. The recent forced departure of Vincent Cobée has reinforced these low-cost rumours, which have resurfaced with renewed vigour, announcing that Citroën will become almost a sub-brand of Stellantis in the coming years. What is it really? Reaction elements.

Before we know whether Citroën will become a low-cost brand, let's first try to define what a low-cost brand is. Introduced in Europe with the launch of the Dacia brand, the concept of a low-cost brand consists of offering very inexpensive vehicles that meet "primary" needs by compromising on a certain number of elements (design, quality of materials, technology, safety, etc.) in order to offer the lowest possible price; this is the meaning of the first Logan, which cost €8,500 at the time.

Today, there are no more low-cost brands on the European markets, because even Dacia has changed and increased these prices considerably, especially in recent years, declaring itself to be an accessible brand. Even if the Romanian brand's models are much cheaper than the models in their segment, Dacia is no longer strictly speaking a low-cost brand offering simple cars at unbeatable prices. Today, the gap between Dacia models and generalist models is certainly around 15-20%, but even the cheapest Sandero starts at €12,000, a sum far from the so-called low-cost price.

More and more expensive cars

Since 2020, the automotive industry has faced several crises that have completely disrupted it. Sanitary restrictions and a shortage of components have led to a significant reduction in production, forcing the industry to shift from a demand to a supply logic. In addition, the multiple price rises since the war in Ukraine have led to a sharp rise in costs, which manufacturers have been able to pass on in full to consumers, as the supply of cars is lower than demand and order books have been full for several months.

This sharp increase in car prices has affected all manufacturers, including Dacia, making the purchase of a new car increasingly difficult. In addition, the forced electrification of the ranges also has a strong impact on the price of vehicles, which leads a certain number of consumers to keep their vehicle, delay their purchase or choose a more accessible brand.

Faced with a trend that is here to stay, it is therefore important to be able to offer accessible cars in order to survive, otherwise the market will be reduced to the only part of the population able to finance the purchase of a vehicle, with a certain number of consumers being relegated to second-hand vehicles, whose prices are also rising, or to commercially aggressive brands such as Chinese brands. As the market shrinks, the market share of each brand will inevitably fall, with the risk of going out of business due to lack of profitability. It makes sense, therefore, to try to offer cars that are sufficiently accessible to as many people as possible, without falling into the low-cost trap, while preserving the values that are the basis of the brands' DNA. A daunting challenge that only Citroën can meet, a brand that has faced so many challenges in the past and has always come back stronger.

Citroën: accessible but true to its values

This is the brand's objective for the coming years, particularly with the new C3, which will have the heavy responsibility of heralding Citroën's turning point. However, this new C3 will not be a low-cost car and, although it will offer affordable prices to compete with Dacia, it will also offer versions with superior services. Citroën's aim is to offer the new C3 at prices close to those of the current model, thus putting an end to the inflationary spiral. Citroën will therefore remain, as it is today, an accessible brand, democratising technologies in order to make them available to as many people as possible. Already today, a C3 in its You! is the same price as a Sandero in L.O.A*, a sign that it is Dacia that has moved up and not Citroën that has moved down. Citroën will therefore remain in its current position, capable of offering vehicles that can respond to the success of Dacia, while offering superior service and scrupulously respecting the DNA of the brand, namely comfort, technology and audacity.

The next Citroëns will continue on this path for some time to come in order to make the car, and in particular the electric car, more accessible. The C3 Aircross, which will arrive in 2024, just like the C5 Aircross in 2025, will continue this trend, which began in 2016 with the launch of the current C3, of offering less expensive cars that are nevertheless the most comfortable in their segments. So there is no fear of the brand becoming a low-cost brand, and we can definitely say that.

However, there is a real need to be able to offer accessible cars or risk losing a large share of the market to the Chinese brands or Dacia and being reduced to an increasingly small market share. We will see with the future C3, C3 Aircross and C5 Aircross what choices have been made, but we can already assure you that these models will not be sub-cars, on the contrary, they will be true to Citroën, offering modern technologies, exceptional comfort, spaciousness, modularity and practicality for less than the competition, without being as cheap as Dacia.

In conclusion, the rumours of a low-cost car have been eating away at Citroën's life for years now, and the brand will respond strongly and definitively in a few months' time when the new C3 is unveiled. Everything we have read and seen, including on Passionnément Citroën, seems far from the good surprise that Citroën has in store for us. But Citroën, in order to secure its place on a European car market that some believe will shrink by 20 to 30% in the future, has no choice but to know how to continue to offer accessible cars with the comfort, technology and audacity that characterise it, while respecting the compulsory electrification imposed by Europe. Knowing how to be accessible without being impoverished, while respecting its DNA and its values, is a tough challenge that only a brand like Citroën can meet.

* Citroën C3 You! with two-tone roof option sold from €205 per month compared to Dacia Sandero Stepway Essential sold from €209 per month. (L.O.A 48 months 40,000 km no deposit)


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