Peugeot Sees China Becoming Its Biggest Market, Surpassing France by 2015 image

PSA Peugeot Citroen sees China surpassing France and becoming the automaker’s biggest market.

France has been Peugeot’s biggest market until now, but the automaker predicts that China will take its place beginning with 2015, as the company increases the number of dealerships in the Asian country and also expands into the smaller cities.

The automaker plans to increase sales in China by 22% this year to 540,000 vehicles, according to Gregoire Olivier, chief executive officer of its Asian operations. Peugeot will also introduce the Peugeot 301 sedan and the revamped Citroen C-Elysee models this year, and is also preparing its flagship DS dealership in Shanghai.

“This year we expect is going to be another good year,” said Olivier. “We’re on a very active development plan and very nice growth.”

Expanding in China will help Peugeot cut its dependence on Europe, where the market is expected to fall for the sixth consecutive year. Expanding in the Asian country will not be an easy task as Peugeot will have to compete with GM and VW, the leaders of foreign nameplates in China.

“The DS brand has no influence at all in the premium segment so it’s going to be a tough challenge,” said John Zeng, Shanghai-based managing director of auto researcher LMC Automotive. “As for the Peugeot and Citroen brands, they still have lots of work to do in terms of bringing the proper products to China.”