DS CEO Béatrice Foucher says she is “not happy” with the sales performance of the brand in the UK so far but is confident the new C-segment DS 4, soon to be launched here, can provide a springboard into this country’s “very large and competitive” premium market.
“We have been underperforming,” she says, “but I don’t believe our cars are the problem. We have great products and we are happy with the way they are positioned. The cars we have coming also fit the market. It is more a matter of customer mindset, of communication. We have not yet found the right way to persuade UK premium customers to move on from their traditional brands. We must work harder on that.”
DS will continue to sell its French-oriented ‘haute couture’ design message, says Foucher, although she believes the firm must also stress its cutting-edge technology – such as its plug-in hybrid models that also offer 4×4 – because “we are not selling handbags”. With the right marketing, she believes the DS 4 can achieve “a big sales increase in the UK” although she admits to not yet having all the answers in what has proved a difficult market.
Even so, DS’s 2021 offensive will include “careful” sale of the already launched DS 9 luxury saloon, with supplies limited so as to avoid over-stocking and price discounting. DS dealers and bosses are already well aware of the poor residuals performance of large French saloons in the UK. “DS 9 is a very nice car, an exceptional car,” said Foucher. “We will take care not to kill it.”
Referring to DS’s status within the newly formed Stellantis group, Foucher welcomed the opportunity to be part of a “premium pool” with Alfa Romeo and Lancia. “Having sisters and brothers makes us stronger,” she said. “We can develop new premium technology to share across our brands that might have been too expensive on our own.”
DS retains its previously revealed ambition eventually to offer six models rather than the current four, but will not rush the process, Foucher said.