Citroen's Chennai unit rolls out C5 Aircross SUV, launch this quarter

Topics SUVs | PSA Group

Citroën C5 Aircross SUV
Citroën has started commercial production in India, rolling out the first Citroën C5 Aircross SUV from its plant in Thiruvallur, near Chennai. 

The flagship SUV is the first product for Indian customers from the Citroën brand and is slated to be launched this quarter. 

Production of the new SUV in India started after testing of the vehicle for over 250,000 kilometres in different terrains and varied weather conditions, said the French car maker.

Emmanuel Delay, Executive Vice President, Stellantis & Chairman, PCA Automobile India Pvt Ltd & PSA AVTEC Powertrain Pvt Ltd., said Citroën C5 Aircross SUV will be the first of many differentiating products for India from the brand.

Earlier the French automaker, which is re-entering India, said it will launch a C-Cube platform globally from India, from which at least one car will be rolled out every year.

There is a great deal of buzz in the market about the new Citroën C5 Aircross SUV, which will set a benchmark in style, comfort and innovation in its segment in India, he said.

Recently, Citroen announced its first phygital showroom in India. 

The urban retail concept 'La Maison Citroën', unveiled in Paris in 2017, is currently present in over 100 locations worldwide. India’s first La Maison Citroën showroom in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, will aim to at make the car buying experience engaging and digitally immersive, said the company. To start with, the company will launch 10 showrooms across 10 top cities, said Roland Bouchara, senior vice president–Sales & Marketing, Citroën India.

Joel Verany, vice president–Sales & Network Development, Citroën India. added that work on the second phase of expansion of dealerships will commence soon.

The showrooms are coming ahead of the company's first C5 Aircross SUV launch in Q1CY 2021. The car will be positioned as a premium SUV, said Bouchara.

European auto major Groupe PSA, which is going to kick-start its journey with the premium SUV, said it is working on a new platform and India will be the first market to have products from it.

The company is planning to launch at least one car every year on this new platform. To start with, the C5 will have a diesel engine. Going forward, vehicles based on the C-Cube platform will have gasoline engines. Bouchara said localisation would be 90-100 per cent.

Saurabh Vatsa, senior director–Marketing and PR Operations, Citroën India, said the diesel engines are assembled in India.

The company is setting up a production capacity of 100,000 units a year, in the first phase at its Thiruvallur plant, which is a JV between PSA Groupe and the CK Birla Group.

The new capacity will cater to products from the new platform starting this year. The vehicles will specifically cater to the Indian market.

“Most of the mainstream segments will be covered in the new platform,” said Bouchara, who refused to share specific details about the new products and segments the company is looking at.

Citroen is looking at one new model every year at least, from this platform for 4-5 years, starting 2021.

Speaking about the company's strategy in India, Bouchara recently said the focus would be on profitable growth, driven by good positioning -- while not chasing volumes or market share or expanding too much -- localisation (would be over 90 per cent on the new platform) and profitability of dealers.

The company, which formally announced its entry into the Indian market with the Citroen brand in 2019, is looking to create a seamless digital experience for prospective customers of its first model -- C5 Aircross SUV.

Citroen has lined up ATAWADAC (Any Time, Any Where, Any Device, Any Content), a seamless digital consumer experience, which will be piloted in a few markets, including India.

It will be the second innings for PSA in India. The company signed a partnership with the erstwhile Premier family for a JV, Peugeot PAL India, but pulled out in 2001. In 2017, PSA Groupe announced a partnership with CK Birla Group to re-enter the Indian market.

Europe's leading car maker, Groupe PSA, officially announced its re-entry in India in April 2019 with the Citroen brand. Citroen C5 Aircross SUV will challenge the likes of Mahindra XUV500, Tata Harrier, Hyundai Tuscon, Jeep Compass and the upcoming MG Hector.

The C5 Aircross will be the first of several differentiated products from the company’s vehicle manufacturing unit in Tiruvallur, Tamil Nadu. It will also churn out powertrains from its PSA-AVTEC Powertrain JV at Hosur. The company has signed a MoU with Tamil Nadu to invest Rs 2,400 crore.

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