“India is a key pillar of the Citroen strategy. It is a market that could very soon reach 5 million units (annually). We want to grow 30 per cent of our sales outside Europe (by 2025). India is a key pillar for that amongst other regions, like for example Latin America,” Koskas told PTI here in an interview.
At the moment, he said, “It (India) is a very significant operation and probably that will become more and more significant in the years to come”.
When asked about the sales targets in India, he said, “We do not communicate on numbers, but I can tell you that probably India will become the biggest growth driver of Citroen outside Europe”.
With over 5 lakh units last year, Europe was Citroen’s biggest market followed by other regions, such as Latin America and Middle Eastern countries like Turkey with about 50,000 units each. In India, the company sold around 9,000 units last year.
“Considering the fact that we are introducing new models and that we are developing the network, probably India could quickly become the biggest operation that we have outside Europe,” Koskas said.
The all-new C3 Aircross marks the second phase of Citroen’s C-Cubed programme, announced in 2019, adding to the existing models hatchback C3 and all-electric E-C3. On future product launch plans, he said, “At the moment on the C-Cubed platform, the plan is to introduce three vehicles — C3, C3 Aircross and the third one next year….in India, you do not need to have 10 products or whatever. You just need to have the right product”.
He said the company would have a total of five products by next year, including the C5 Aircross SUV and the E-C3 electric car and asserted “We think it’s good to sustain the strategy of Citroen in India”.
The company is also gradually expanding its sales network, which currently stands at around 60, with each new product introduction, Koskas said, adding “When we have the third car introduced next year, we will go up to 100, which if compared with some big players in the market is small, but we’ll be able to cover the major cities (of India)”.
He also stressed that Citroen would continue with its “India first strategy” of selling products in the country that “are designed and engineered and produced in India”.
“That’s the key secret if we want to expand into this market. You cannot have products that are designed somewhere else because the Indian market is so specific in terms of customer expectations…I would say our strategy is to be at the core of the Indian market. In order to do that, we need to propose products that are very much designed, engineered and adapted to the local needs,” Koskas added.
On the other hand, a halo product like the C5 Aircross, which is very much a European product although locally produced in India, is not for volume and it is for the image because it gives an idea of what the Citroen brand is capable of, he said.
When asked about plans for electric vehicles, he said, “I can see great opportunities in the electric segment in India, because the way cars are used, in many cases, it’s urban or suburban moves, and this is perfect for electric cars”.
While he did not elaborate on the company’s road map for EVs in India, Koskas said, “When the market continues to grow, we will ensure that we have the right offer for the market, but I can see a big growth perspective for electric vehicles in the market”.
On exports from India, he said Citroen would look to leverage the competitive production base of the country.
“India is such a competitive production base. This is probably one of the countries where we have the most competitive production base. We are heavily localised in India, which means that at everything, all the components and so on are very competitive. We are obviously very interested to grab any export opportunity,” Koskas said.
At present, Citroen is exporting to some Asian and African countries.
Citing the example of C3, which is exported to South Africa, he said, “If the market responds and the demand is there, we will happily follow. So, yes, export is a great opportunity for us”.