PSA Group eyes 15 possible states for sales

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Dominique: “Those states are of the most interest to me at this point in time because they’re high volume and import receptive.” Photo credit: CHINA HALEY

DETROIT — PSA Group has narrowed to 15 states and four Canadian provinces its top picks as possible points of entry for sales as the French carmaker continues to ramp up plans to return to North America, the head of its North American division said Tuesday.

Larry Dominique, CEO of PSA Group North America, told reporters that he is focusing on 15 states with customers who are willing to buy imports and represent 62 percent of vehicle sales. Dominique’s presentation mentioned 14 states: California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Arizona, Washington, Massachusetts, Virgina, North Carolina, Georgia and Maryland. The 15th state was undisclosed.

“Those states are of the most interest to me at this point in time because they’re high volume and import receptive,” he said after an Automotive Press Association meeting in Detroit,

In Canada, PSA also is looking at four provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec) that represent 87 percent of Canadian sales.

The maker of brands such as Peugeot, Citroen and Opel hopes to sell cars again in North America by 2026. Peugeot left the U.S. in 1991. Its North American headquarters is in Atlanta, with plans for 15-18 employees by the end of this year. PSA plans to ramp up hiring in 2019.  

PSA Group has a three-pronged, 10-year plan to sell cars again in North America. Its first play is through mobility. It launched the Free2Move app in Seattle in fall 2017. The app lets customers order and pay for a variety of transportation services, such as ride-hailing or public transit, with one mobile app.

Free2Move also is the brand PSA Group will use to launch a new car-sharing service in the U.S. An announcement is expected within weeks on the non-PSA vehicle brand it will use, said Dominique, a former TrueCar and Nissan executive.

Dominique said PSA will use a leasing partner for about 600 vehicles, though PSA and an automotive brand also had to come to an agreement.

As for how it will sell cars in the U.S., Dominique has been looking at innovative distribution models for its vehicles outside of the traditional dealer franchise system. And while the company’s focus is on new cars, PSA also is looking at what it will do with cars that will come out of service from car-sharing, he said. In Europe, for example, PSA has Free2Move used car sales, Dominique said.

“How do I remarket those vehicles in a way that I can protect the residual value and so forth,” he said. “That’s really important to us.”

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