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PSA has defined its brands, giving hope to Chrysler and Dodge

by David Zatz on

While Peugeot (PSA) has recently set up a group to differentiate and clarify the identities of its brands—heading into a merger with Fiat Chrysler (FCA)—some are already well established.

brands

Detroit News quoted Carlos Tavares, CEO of PSA and the future FCA/PSA group, describing some of the brands. Citroën is the people’s brand, Peugeot is high-end mainstream, and DS is “a premium brand with a French flare.” He didn’t define Opel or Vauxhall especially well, calling Opel “true German” (it was owned by GM but centered in Germany) and Vauxhall “for the British” (it sold rebadged Opels).

As for Chrysler and Dodge, the hope comes from Tavares’ self-description as a “brand addict,” and his statement that the various company brands would stay centered in their country of origin. His view of Peugeot seems to match Chrysler’s perception among the general public—mainstream, but a little higher up—which frustrated Daimler and Fiat alike as they tried to make Chrysler a replacement for the unabashedly mainstream Plymouth.

One of the issues Chrysler has repeatedly faced is lack of a coherent, accurate description of its brand identity, one which is believable by potential buyers and consistent with the vague impressions held by the general public. Branding has been proven quite important for Chrysler as the Prowler and Voyager both failed when given Chrysler labels; and it appears that FCA has been wavering on which brand will get the U.S. version of the Grand Commander (since it’s not likely to pass Jeep off-road tests, Jeep is ironically not likely to get it). Indeed, it appears that the company is testing whether the Voyager label will help sell Pacificas; if the Voyager, with a lower price than Pacifica, can’t make a dent in Caravan sales, it may be bad news for the Chrysler brand in its current form. But it would also be unlikely that Tavares would drop it, just as he’s trying to peacefully bring together the former Fiat, the former Chrysler, the former Opel, and the former Peugeot into one functional unit.

One solution, which numerous people have already suggested, would be bringing Peugeot into the US as Chrysler, with any needed changes to make it more consistent with Chrysler’s current styling and design. Peugeot occupies about the same niche in France as Chrysler does in the U.S., but with more cars.

As an aside, the question of what the new company will be named continues to come up; Tavares said the new name should show its sustainable future, implying that it may not be a listing of brands. This would make sense, especially since all the brands will reportedly live on; and any brand-consolidated corporate name would either be clunky or insulting to anyone who is left out.

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