Citroen’s New C3 Adds Built-In Camera to Seduce Younger Buyers

  • PSA mass-market brand’s new hatchback copies Cactus bumps
  • Citroen seeks to reduce average age of buyer from 59 to 50

Citroen is adding a built-in driver’s-view camera and dual-color design to its new C3 hatchback, a bid to recapture some of the once-chic French brand’s attitude for younger buyers.

The new version of Citroen’s best-selling car shares the bump-proof plastic side panels of the brand’s quirky Cactus crossover and comes in 36 color combinations. Introduced Wednesday in a gentrifying industrial neighborhood in Lyon, France, the hatchback goes on sale in Citroen’s home market in October.

The revamp is an attempt to differentiate Citroen from sister brand Peugeot, which sells the 208 hatchback with most of the same specifications as the previous C3, as well as to challenge the likes of the Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta. Citroen is relying on design to make its lineup stand out as it introduces eight new body shapes by 2021.

“We intend to attract new customers, especially younger customers,” said Linda Jackson, head of the brand, which is owned by PSA Group along with the Peugeot and DS nameplates. “We have a very sexy product, a punchy, unconventional car in this segment, a car that reflects our renewal.”

Citroen is aiming to reduce the average age of its European customers from 59 years old to 50, Jackson said. The marque will also reach for younger buyers via a rental service and financing programs, she said.

Brexit Effect

The push for a new group of customers comes as parent PSA faces the prospect of plunging sales next year due to the U.K.’s vote to exit the European Union. France’s biggest carmaker makes 8 percent of its global deliveries across the English Channel. PSA’s earnings could drop 21 percent next year due to economic fallout from the so-called Brexit, according to Evercore ISI estimates.

“We will look at adapting prices, but we continue to sell cars,” Jackson said. “We are used to handling that kind of issue in other markets,” she said, citing currency volatility in South America.

The new C3 features a touchscreen tablet that can be connected to Apple or Android operating systems. Mounted behind the rear-view mirror, the built-in camera will allow the driver to record what he or she sees and share the video instantly on social networks or by e-mail. The camera will also automatically activate for one minute in the event of a crash.

Production will shift from France to Slovakia. The new model will account for more than half the vehicles produced at PSA’s Trnava factory by next year and boost output nearly 20 percent to some 360,000 vehicles in 2018, plant director Remi Girardon said earlier Wednesday.

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