PSA Peugeot Citroen’s largest division added market share in Europe in the first two months of 2014 as the region’s second-biggest carmaker won customers with new models, the head of the unit said.
“We’re seeing the effects of our renewed product range that is gaining momentum,” Maxime Picat, chief executive officer of the Peugeot brand, said today in an interview at the Geneva International Motor Show. The European Car of the Year award that went to the 308 hatchback two days ago “is a plus that’s important because it gives credibility to our work.”
Peugeot and its Citroen sister nameplate were among the European carmakers hardest hit by a six-year contraction in the region’s auto market, with their combined sales drop last year the worst of the top 10 sellers there. Picat is overseeing a shift to more up-market vehicles such as the 308 and the 2008 crossover to attract buyers and help restore earnings.
“The new product range is working well and allowing us to win share in a market that’s bottoming out,” Picat said.
Peugeot rose as much as 3.9 percent and was trading up 3.5 percent at 13.65 euros at 1:37 p.m. in Paris. The stock has jumped 45 percent this year and has been at about the highest price since March 2012 for the past two weeks following the announcement of a rescue plan.
The Peugeot marque accounted for 6.3 percent of industry auto sales in Europe in January, a 0.2 percentage-point increase from a year earlier. That follows a decline to 6 percent from 6.3 percent for all of 2013. Picat didn’t specify any sales figures for February. The parent company forecast last month that its full-year sales in the region will grow about 2 percent.
The vehicle strategy is part of a plan by group CEO Philippe Varin and his designated successor, Carlos Tavares, to make Paris-based Peugeot profitable following at least two years of losses. The manufacturer is working on a 5.27 billion-euro ($7.24 billion) fund-raising effort, including a 3 billion-euro stock sale that will bring in Chinese carmaking partner Dongfeng Motor Corp. and the French state as large investors, to finance model development and sales expansion outside Europe.
The Peugeot brand’s deliveries in China, the world’s largest automotive market, will probably jump 27 percent this year to 330,000 vehicles, Picat said. The sales network in the country will be expanded 22 percent to 550 dealers. Currency effects are holding back profit in Latin America, and the company is raising prices in that region in response, he said.