Will The New C3 Reinforce Citroën's International Growth Strategy?

T Murrali
17 Sep 2021
12:18 PM
4 Min Read

The challenge for the company was to strike a balance to provide everything that customers needed, while keeping the price range competitive.

Citroen C3

As part of its 'C-Cubed' programme to launch three vehicles with an international focus by 2024, Citroën has unveiled its new C3 for India and South America. This hatchback, which is less than four-metre-long, is aimed at a major segment in these two markets, and they will be the first to get the compact SUV in 2022.

Vincent Cobée, CEO, Citroën made it clear that C3 is its trade name for all of its B-segment hatchbacks worldwide. However, it doesn't mean it's the same model everywhere. This new C3 differs from the European version as its design has been inspired by and for the countries in question to offer a unique solution that fully conveys the Citroën identity, he said. 

According to the company, incorporating knowledge of the two regions' society, culture and needs make the new C3 a model designed, developed, and produced by and for India and South America.

The company rolled out an ambitious product plan to achieve its intent to have a more significant international presence by becoming stronger in all the markets in which it operates. Currently, the company is present in several markets, including South America, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, China and India and the new C3 is a vital part of this international ramp-up and the first stage of this growth strategy. 

The challenge for the company was to strike a balance to provide everything that customers needed, while keeping the price range competitive. To achieve this, the local teams were fully involved in the model's definition, development, and production, Cobée said. 

Clockwise from top right: Vincent Cobee, Pierre Leclercq, Saurabh Vatsa and Roland Bouchara

Citroën’s India Gameplan 

The C3 is a crucial part of the company's India growth journey. From now on, it can be the backbone of its local development strategy as it fits into the significant chunk of the Indian market – sub-four metre cars, representing about 70% of the total demand. It is also the segment dominated by first-time car buyers, and Citroën India hopes that C3 will fit right in with its affordability and attractiveness. 

Talking about India, Cobée said, “The benefit of a newcomer is that we are future-ready.”

Though the price of the car has not been revealed, one can hope that it would be competitively priced given the localisation levels of over 90%. On the contrary, the C5 Aircross, the company's first car to be launched, had minimum local content. Though the powertrain was sourced locally, it was assembled with CKD kits. The C5 Aircross SUV was introduced in India after rigorous testing for over 2.5 lakh km in different terrains and varied weather conditions across the country. 

The company must have done a similar exercise for the C3, since, according to Pierre Leclercq, Global Design Director, Citroën, it took about five years to develop this car – from scratch to the roll-out. 

Though there was no mention of the engine options, C3 might get the 1.2 litre turbo petrol engine for India. 

The company's R&D centre in Chennai, vehicle assembly plant at Thiruvallur and the powertrain plant at Hosur in Tamil Nadu came in handy for the company to further boost the localisation of C3. In addition, its global purchasing hub operating in the city ensured uninterrupted part supplies at the desired quality and affordable cost. Satisfied with the quality levels of Indian operations, Cobée said, “Suppliers manufacturing in India is second to none.”

Saurabh Vatsa, MD & CEO, Stellantis in India, said the Indian arm of the company hopes to expand the phygital La Maison Citroën showrooms and L'Atelier workshops in India. 

Saurabh Vatsa, Citroën Brand Head, India, said the B-segment sees many young buyers who want a sub-four metre car, which is an extension of their personality. The C3 is positioned in that sweet spot and will appeal to the young generation of customers in India, who are looking for differentiated experiences. 

“This is where our customisation strategy will play a big role – making a fashion statement to attract people who like to be stylish,” he added. 

Strengthening South America

Citroën has a much more established presence in South America, dating back to the 1960s. Therefore, the present objective is to gain a firmer foothold in this market, with modern products, in step with customer aspirations. 

C4 Cactus is produced in Brazil and represents its positioning in the country and its neighbouring country Argentina, with its unique style and comfort. The new C3 will also be produced in Porto Real in Brazil, where the B-hatch segment accounts for nearly 30% of the market. It represents 26% in Argentina.

The positioning of the new C3 will ensure greater coverage of the segment. According to Citroën, the new C3 will cover 90% of the segment's needs in Brazil, compared with 40% for the former model, while in Argentina, the new C3 is set to cover 75% of the segment's needs, up from 50%. This gives enough confidence for the French brand to penetrate the South American markets. 


Product Experience

According to the company, each region will develop its own specific range of solutions in terms of online sales, customisation, connected services, and aftersales to offer a unique customer experience.

Citroën is initially focusing on large metropolitan areas through a customer experience based on its growing network and innovative services and highly digital presence. The company has to match the requirements of the B SUV market to make the new C3 a good contender in the segment. The model's specific SUV attributes, including a driving position that is, as claimed by the company, one of the highest in the segment, will be reckoned with by the customers in India for sure. 

Short overhangs will enable the vehicle to manoeuvre traffic and short turns. The high driving position steeply raked bonnet, two-tone bodywork with a clear border between the body and the roof and 11 customisation variants, horizontal dashboard, numerous storage compartments despite the length being 3.98 m long, the 2.54 m long wheelbase, mirror screen function, among others, will certainly be counted by the customers before deciding on their new car. 

When C5 Aircross SUV was launched in India, the USP of the vehicle was its unique suspension system – the progressive hydraulic cushions, which is different from the suspension system in other cars in the same segment or below. Besides, specific design, structural bonding and seats amplified the comfort inside the car.

Citroën has gone one step ahead in providing even aircon controls in the touchscreen. However, despite several exciting features, the lack of customisation held the vehicle back from customers’ minds – like the positioning of turn-light and wiper controls and the bonnet opening lever and others. If these issues are addressed in C3, Citroen will have a significant run in the Indian market. 

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