In Conversation With Saurabh Vatsa, Brand Head, Citroen India

Saurabh Vatsa, Brand Head of Citroen India in a candid conversation with the Editorial Lead of BW Autoworld, Utkarsh Agarwal talks about the company’s future plans and how Citroen is trying to position itself in the Indian market with the launch of its second product in India– the C3 hatchback. He also shared that Citroen will be coming with an electric vehicle (EV) in India next year.

Citroen being a young brand in India, How are you trying to position the company in India and what does it stand for?

Citroen is definitely a young brand in India. Last year when we entered the Indian market, we said that Citroen is all about comfort and we stand by it. We brought in the flagship C5 Aircross SUV in India, which lives the Citroen advanced comfort and whoever drove the vehicle was convinced with it. Now we are bringing the same Citroen advanced comfort to life with the C3 hatchback as well.

Though having a lot of potential, C5 Aircross SUV isn’t performing well in India in terms of sales. Now with C3, what are the company’s plans for India?

I disagree that the C5 is not doing well. When we entered India, the role of the C5 Aircross SUV in the portfolio was to establish what the Citroen stands for – advanced comfort, technology, and styling and the vehicle has brought that alive. We started with 10 city network, with 11 outlets and we had taken multiple initiatives which were India unique as far as the network and the consumer journey is concerned, these were not in response to Covid because we had already planned these far ahead. A lot of OEMs brought digitisation efforts as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic when the showrooms started becoming empty. When we were launching a new brand, a new product in a new country with a new team, it was important for us to establish all the systems before the mainstream hatchback C3 comes to the market. Also, if you look at the numbers of the competition in those 10 cities, we are ahead. Fairly, C5 Aircross SUV has done what it was supposed to do and it continues to do that. 

Now the C3 hatchback would be launched this month, so what should the customers expect from the car?

From C3, the clear expectation of the customers is that the vehicle should be a sub 4-metre hatch and this is based on a lot of feedback that we already have from the consumers because we have taken around 5 years to develop the smart car platform (C-Cube) in India. During this journey of 5 years, we have gone to the consumers many times and tried to get their assessment of what they really want in their car. C3 is a hatchback but with a very strong SUV attitude and stance and the customers will get the Citroen advanced comfort. Once you get inside the C3, it is very spacious and roomy. 

What were the challenges while designing the C3?

The main challenge for us was to bring the Citroen advanced comfort into a sub 4-metre hatch. The suspension and chassis dynamics that we have built into the car of that size is something where the C3 will differentiate itself from the others in the category.

Citroen is also moving towards the latest automotive trends like the D2C sales model, do you think customers prefer to buy their car online rather than going to an offline showroom?

We have enabled a dual strategy, which is Direct to Customer (D2C) online buying experience and another is that you choose to go to the Phygital showroom where one can complete his buying journey. We have already enabled that on C5 and we find that quite a few customers have actually brought the car completely online. They made the payment online and we delivered the vehicle to their Pin code. We serviced 50 Pin codes with the C5 and we are now expanding to 90 Pin codes with the C3. Now if you look at the La Maison Phygital showroom, we will be servicing 20 showrooms by July and more than 30 showrooms by the end of this year.  

What next will we see from Citroen in this financial year?

The expansion of Citroen network has started and will be coming up with an electric vehicle (EV) in the Indian market next year but nothing in the plan related to the autonomous vehicles from Citroen in India but Stellantis group has got multiple projects which are running on the autonomous.

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Citroen India Citroen C3 Saurabh Vatsa


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