Peugeot-Citroen’s statement last year that it plans to return to North America garnered some skepticism. It wasn’t the concept of a comeback itself but the manner in which PSA is choosing to do it: PSA CEO Carlos Tavares said the automaker’s 10-year, multistep strategy will start with car-sharing.
To be fair, it makes sense for PSA to slowly dip its toes back into the U.S., which it left a distant 26 years ago: The automaker has no dealership network and will be unable to build one overnight. It might, in fact, be easier for Renault to start selling cars in the U.S. because it’s a part of Nissan. But Peugeot-Citroen is another automotive empire altogether.
Now, a year after PSA’s announcement, the ride-sharing service TravelCar will be launched at the Los Angeles and San Francisco airports in April. TravelCar currently operates in 10 European countries and has over 300,000 users, but this rental agency works differently from other airport rental companies — it rents out cars owned by other travelers. Those who lend their cars get free parking in exchange, and those who rent the cars pay about half of other companies’ rental rates, according to TravelCar. This car-sharing concept also relies on you being cool with total strangers using your car while you’re on some business trip.
The DS 7 will offer a luxurious interior with leather over just about everything, including the door cars which will feature a diamond-quilted pattern.
“We announced our progressive entry to North America by launching mobility services with our partners,” said PSA’s head of mobility services Grégoire Olivier. “We deploy these services worldwide to meet customers’ expectations. With TravelCar today, we’re writing the beginning of this new step overseas.”
PSA plans to use TravelCar to study the U.S. market, with the possible goal of offering its upscale DS models as rental cars in the U.S.
But which model should PSA use to reintroduce itself to U.S. buyers?
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Aimed at the likes of the Lexus NX, Audi Q5 and the BMW X1, the DS 7 Crossback will offer luxurious room for five, a camera-guided suspension system similar to Mercedes’ Magic Body Control, and a range of four-cylinder engines paired with six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic transmissions. Raw horsepower is not what the DS brand is about, and all-wheel drive won’t be on the menu at launch, but as far as luxury crossovers, go the DS 7 Crossback appears to tick all the right boxes for American consumers.
To be clear, the DS 7 Crossback has not been named as the first vehicle that PSA will offer stateside. But the DS sub-brand of Citroen has been mentioned as the starting lineup for the States. The end goal for PSA is to sell cars in the U.S. by 2026.