French automaker PSA Group, which controls the Peugeot, Citroën, DS and Opel (Vauxhall) brands, plans to sell cars in the United States no later than 2026.
In the coming months the automaker will make some key decisions surrounding how it plans to return, including what brand(s) will lead the charge.
PSA CEO Carlos Tavares told Automotive News (subscription required) in an interview published Tuesday that some of the key decisions will be made between now and spring 2019.
Executives will hash out product plans, launch brands, distribution methods, and discuss where the cars imported to the U.S. will come from, he said, adding that each of the “strategic questions” has several options.
PSA is already present locally with some car-sharing services, which it is using to gather feedback on the tastes and desires of American drivers. It makes sense since none of the brands within PSA has operated in the U.S. in several decades.
It’s unclear what brand(s) will ultimately make the journey to the U.S., but Opel has been floated as a top contender in the past. PSA North America CEO Larry Dominique told Car and Driver in a March interview that executives had zeroed in on one brand in particular, and Tavares himself has also acknowledged consumers tend to have a poor perception of French vehicles. Opel’s German roots could play better in the U.S. market.
PSA has already tasked Opel with leading the engineering charge to ensure its next-generation vehicles conform to U.S. regulations. And bringing over Opel also makes sense since the brand’s markets are mostly limited to Europe whereas PSA’s other brands are already sold globally. If brought here, expect Opel to be positioned as an alternative to Volkswagen, Mazda and of course Buick which currently sells some rebadged Opels.
Another possibility is bringing over the upmarket DS brand, which Tavares wants to turn into a global luxury brand to rival the likes of Germany’s triumvirate.
PSA hasn’t confirmed whether it will set up traditional dealerships, but Tuesday’s Automotive News report claims the company has hinted it’s the most likely route to take.