The years 2010 and 2011 have been a period of growth but also some consolidation on all fronts for Citroën South Africa after the brand returned to this country as a subsidiary of CITROËN France at the beginning of last year, just as the world was starting to recover from the financial crisis.
What CITROËN South Africa have done is to extend its range making it the biggest and most comprehensive our company has ever had in South Africa. We have six stunning cars in the Citroën line-up (C1, C3, C3 Picasso, C4, C4 Picasso, C5) and three models for the popular new DS line (DS3, DS4 and DS5).
We returned to the light commercial market recently and plan to continue extending our total vehicle range in line with our mid and long term plan.
CITROËN South Africa is very proud of its great range of vehicles, which are a combination of revolutionary technology and creative innovation, while some of the DS models hint back to the golden era of panache.
Our challenge is to break down the perception in South Africa that our servicing is expensive and parts pricing high. We believe that whilst this perception may have been true in the past we, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of CITROËN France, continue to address these perceived concerns.
We have made huge investments in our parts operation in Linbro Park and conduct ongoing research into the competitiveness of our parts pricing, our warranty cover and the cost of our service and maintenance contracts.
There are operational standards for all the servicing operations and the dealers are measured in terms of all aspects of their operation so we can identify and rectify any shortcomings.
Our task is to put our money where our mouth is by providing a level of after-sales service that is seen by customers as very good value for money and performed to the highest standards. We must show the market that you can buy a Citroën vehicle with confidence and that the vehicle will have excellent countrywide back-up from our dealer network.
We believe the new visual standards we have prescribed to our dealers are making them far more visible while the dealer personnel are undertaking extensive training in all aspects of their business, to the ultimate benefit of our customers.
CITROËN is the sixth largest motor manufacturer in Europe, with sales of more than 1,5-million vehicles in 2010. We have a 15% market share in the French domestic market and more than 6% in Europe so we believe we have the products and marketing experience to more than double our market share in South Africa in the medium term.
CITROËN has a very proud history and we are determined to build on it and grow the brand globally.
The company was founded in 1919 by French industrialist André-Gustave Citroën and was the first mass-production car company outside the United States. It also pioneered the modern concept of creating a sales and services network that complemented the motor car. Within eight years Citroën had become Europe’s largest car manufacturer and the fourth largest in the world.
Other achievements by CITROËN include being the first company to mass produce a front-wheel drive car, the first European car with disc brakes, the first all-steel body in Europe, the first company to use the Eiffel Tower as an advertising hoarding, the first company to offer a commercially available diesel engine, makers of the first car with self-levelling hydro-pneumatic suspension, the first swivelling headlamps and a pioneer of aerodynamic body design.
Over the past few years, we have built up an enviable legacy as the most successful manufacturer in the history of the World Rally Championship. This includes winning the manufacturers’ title for the sixth time and our team of Sebastian Loeb and Daniel Elena winning the world driver’s and co-driver’s championships for the seventh time in 2010 and all of these in successive years from 2004.
With such an illustrious history and pioneering spirit we believe CITROËN is set to make its mark in South Africa too.
On a personal note, I am a comparatively new arrival in your country as Managing Director of CITROËN South Africa, but I have been with this innovative French motor manufacturer for the past 30 years after starting my career as the head of several major dealerships.
Besides looking after the CITROËN brand in Eastern France I have headed up the company’s operations in several countries, including China, Croatia and Romania.
CITROËN has a proud history of innovation and technology, I am looking forward to leading the future growth of the company in South Africa.