Vauxhall/Opel is now a sister brand to Peugeot and Citroën – who saw that coming? To my mind, it’s a slightly odd combination, particularly as PSA has only been in the black for 18 months. CEO Carlos Tavares has also voiced a desire to break into North America, a market the French brands quit decades ago. Getting a foothold there will not be cheap.
One of the reasons Volkswagen Group has become so strong is it has cleverly positioned its brands into their own segments. Bentley is pure luxury, Bugatti and Lamborghini are supercar porn, Audi is the premium brand, Porsche the sportscar builder, Volkswagen the mainstream, Škoda the value-oriented brand and Seat the slightly youthful, lively one of the family.
However, PSA already has three brands in the mainstream, with Citroën perhaps more at the value end and DS still a long way from being regarded as truly premium. Now it has added another mainstream brand. Not to mention that Vauxhall, Peugeot and Citroën vans all compete in the same space, too.
Even Fiat got it right – joining up with Chrysler put the valuable SUV brand Jeep in the same garage as its near-premium brand Alfa Romeo, supercar firm Ferrari, luxury carmaker Maserati and small car specialist Fiat.
Tavares says there will be efficiency savings and synergies from PSA’s takeover of Vauxhall/Opel. Let’s hope sibling rivalry doesn’t get in the way.