French connection: Peugeot, Citroen join forces in NZ

By Alastair Sloane

Citroen cars park outside the Aulnay sous Bois factory, near Paris, France. Photo / AP
Citroen cars park outside the Aulnay sous Bois factory, near Paris, France. Photo / AP

Peugeot and Citroen follow trend and share distributor French carmaker PSA Peugeot-Citroen will from next year consolidate both of its brands under one independent New Zealand distributor.

At present, Peugeot is handled here by the global Sime Darby group and Citroen by expat New Zealander Neville Crichton's transTasman Ateco Automotive operation.

Lawrie Malatios, the general manager of Ateco Automotive NZ, has confirmed its ties with Citroen would end from the beginning of next year.

It is understood that Peugeot importer Sime Darby is set to add the Citroen line-up to its portfolio. But Sime Darby NZ general manager Grant Smith said it "hadn't been appointed" as Citroen distributor in NZ. "There has been nothing official - we haven't heard," he said.

The switch is the result of PSA restructuring its global network. Distributors of Citroen and Peugeot vehicles are being thrown together in Britain, Germany and elsewhere in an effort to improve PSA's financial position, battered by the downturn in the European car market.

The formal announcement of the Citroen switch to Sime Darby is expected to come directly from PSA headquarters in France. New Zealand Citroen dealers were told last week of the change.

Citroen has eight models in its New Zealand portfolio: the small C3 and DS3 (top), medium C4, DS4, and C4 Picasso people-mover, the C5 large car and Berlingo van.

Sales in recent years haven't been strong. It sold 157 cars in 2009, 155 in 2010, 207 last year and 148 in the first six months of this year.

Ateco Automotive NZ will also lose the distribution rights here for Fiat and Alfa Romeo from October 1.

In a similar consolidation move, factory-owned Fiat Chrysler Australia has taken over both Italian brands in this part of the world and is expected to set up a New Zealand branch.

It has also taken over the distribution of Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge products, although Sime Darby is still handling Chrysler Group business here.

The switch to the Melbourne factory subsidiary was widely expected after the Fiat Group assumed recent control of Chrysler with a 58.8 per cent stake.

Italy's biggest carmaker has moved to integrate its operations with the US Chrysler Group since it rescued it from bankruptcy with a corporate buy-out during the global financial crisis.

Fiat Group's sportscar brands, Ferrari and Maserati, will continue to be distributed in New Zealand by Ateco. It will also retain the Great Wall, Chery and Lotus distribution rights here.

Malatios earlier said the loss of Fiat and Alfa was "sad as we have such a passion for the brands". But it would be good for Fiat/Chrysler. "It now gets direct factory support in New Zealand. It was inevitable. Distribution activities by carmakers are being consolidated worldwide."

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n1 at 23 Sep 2014 13:23:52 Processing Time: 473ms