India poised to become export hub for Citroen

French carmaker Citroen will launch its C3 Aircross Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) in India by October, and is betting big on exports from India to markets like South Africa, ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and Nepal, a top company executive told Business Standard.

Citroen, which sold 6,000 units through Citroën C3 and C5 Aircross SUV, is likely to double its sales during the current year, as it has already sold 6,000 units of Citroën C3 and eC3 electric vehicles during the first six months.

“We are going to start bookings for the C3 Aircross SUV in September and launch it in October. Price will be at the heart of the midsize SUV market,” said Saurabh Vatsa, Citroen India branch head.

The company is also poised to launch a new vehicle on the C-cubed platform by early next year.

“Earlier, we said we will be launching three vehicles on a C-cubed platform. Now, we are going to launch the fourth one by early next year,” he explained.

Stellantis, which came into existence after the merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the French PSA Group in 2021, currently sells its Jeep and Citroen brands in the country.

At present, Citroen sells three vehicles in India based on the C-cubed platform.

These include Citroën C3, C5 Aircross SUV and eC3.

The group has invested over Rs 600 crore in the Indian market with two factories in Tamil Nadu – a vehicle assembly plant in Tiruvallur and an engine and transmission plant at Hosur along with a research and development (R&D) centre in Chennai.

“Stellantis is going to invest Euro 30 billion globally by 2025. India is going to be our key market.

“We are looking at launching Citroen in Indonesia too,” said Billy Hayes, head of sales, marketing and regional operations (India and Asia Pacific Region), Stellantis.

The company recently began exports to South Africa, ASEAN and Nepal from the Kamrajar Port in Chennai and are expecting export growth in future.

“We have sent the first couple of batches to these countries,” Vatsa added.

Citroen, which is at present having 45 dealers, is planning to increase it to 60 by the launch of C3 Aircross SUV in October and ramp it up to 75 by the end of this year.

This will be doubled to 150 outlets by next year, making network expansion one of the key aspects of its growth strategy, Vatsa said.

“Volume growth is going to be driven by network expansion, new model introduction and awareness,” Vatsa added.

The company claims that it is at present having a capacity of 100,000 units at Tiruvallur, which can be extended to 300,000 units, if required.

“Over 60 per cent of suppliers are within 50 km from Tiruvallur. More importantly, around 66 per cent of our C3 customers are first-time buyers, which shows that new customers are showing confidence in us,” he added.

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