According to Automotive News, CEO Carlos Tavares laid out a three-step plan to investors and analysts at the company's Parisian headquarters today that culminates in a full-scale return to North America. Calling America "a place where we can make significant profits," Tavares' plan spans ten years and starts with a modest first step "as a mobility operator." That could include a partnership with Bollore, another French company that builds batteries and electric motors. We wouldn't count on PSA being very visible to North American consumers at this early stage.
PSA will be studying the North American market and regulatory atmosphere while implementing its plan, and step two will represent the first opportunity for US and Canadian drivers to get behind the wheel of the company's new products. It's a strategic move that would see PSA vehicles offered as part of a car-sharing program, sort of like a funkier, more stylish Zipcar. This approach allows PSA to gather real-world data on North America's attitude toward French vehicles without making the full-scale investment (dealers, marketing) that would come with selling its vehicles. If steps one and two are successful, AN reports that PSA might return "to sell cars in the U.S. supported by regional sourcing when appropriate."
This represents a big departure from previous reports, particularly the comments made by DS boss Yves Bonnefont, and it's a mix of good and bad. On the one hand, Bonnefont said his company could return on a limited basis to 30 North American cities, with an announcement coming as early as 2017 and sales starting after 2020. This ten-year plan rules out such an aggressive timeline. The flip side, of course, is that Tavares' plan doesn't specify any one brand for the company's potential US return. That means that while Bonnefont's DS brand could still end up in North America, it also doesn't rule out PSA's two bigger brands, Peugeot and Citroen, crossing the Atlantic. Again, though, we wouldn't count on this happening until the middle of next decade. But don't worry, PSA, we're willing to wait.