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C3 Aircross, the first Citroën ‘made by Opel’

Automotive News

Of the Aragonese plant of the German mark should leave 140,000 units every year

Citroën will start marketing C3 Aircross in just one month, a small todocamino (segment B) that will fight with the Renault Captur and Seat Arona. It is manufactured at the Opel plant in Figueruelas (Zaragoza), whose quality, according to Linda Jackson, general manager of the French brand, is “excellent”. At the same time, he points out that “integration and collaboration between the PSA and Opel teams is complete and smooth”.

Jackson is not afraid of a cannibalization between the Opel Crossland X and the Citroën C3 Aircross. “We have market studies that tell us it will not happen. They share the same platform but have different personalities and even different options like the panoramic roof of the C3 Aircross. In addition, it must be taken into account that the commercial management of both brands is independent “, explains the director of Citroën, who emphasizes that industrial collaboration” will generate benefits in economies of scale “.

As for the forecasts for the model, it seeks to get closer to the leader of the segment, since now it occupies in Europe the Renault Captur. The objective is to market about 130,000 units in a full year, of which 14,000 would correspond to the demand of Spain. Although in the line where it is produced jointly with the Opel Crossland X there is flexibility to reach 150,000 vehicles of the French model.
“From Zaragoza, C3 Aircross will be exported to South America, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa.” Next year, the C5 Aircross will be produced in China, along with the other C6 Aircross, which is already being manufactured in the Asian giant and will then start to be assembled in Europe. The new C3 Aircross and C5 Aircross will be “the driving force behind Citroën’s strategic strategy”.

The registrations of todocaminos have multiplied by six between 2012 and 2016, increasing from 216,000 units to 1.2 million. Last year, 80% of the so-called volume vehicles in segment B (family, minivans and todocaminos) corresponded to the latter category. The C3 Aircross will replace the C3 Picasso and is aimed at the format of these off-road derivatives with a body of 4.15 meters long and 17.5 inches of free height to the ground. Sales prices, without promotions, start from 14,000 euros.

The brand focuses on the possibilities of customization of this model, with up to 90 combinations depending on the colors chosen for the exterior, ceiling and elements such as the mirror housings or the rear pillar. In the interior, the modularity of the rear bench, sliding 15 centimeters and whose backrest can be reclined in five positions stands out.

The range of engines consists of up to 12 gasoline and diesel versions. The change can be manual of five or six gears, or automatic of torque converter with six gears. This last one only with the gasoline variant of 110 horses.

The traction is front on all models, but if we opt for the top finish (Shine) you can order the Grip Control, a traction control system that allows the vehicle to adapt to different scenarios. It costs 1,000 euros which includes 17-inch wheels.

Linda Jackson is pleased with the latest Citroën launches and its repositioning. “We have sold 175,000 C3 units since its launch at the end of last year.” In addition, it affects that more than 60% of the sales of this utility are being made with the highest level of equipment that precedent. “We deliver many with the two-seater body, with the panoramic roof, the degree of customization is very high.” This results in the maximum imposed by Carlos Tavares, CEO of Grupo PSA, “to obtain maximum profitability per car”.

New C4 Cactus: about 70,000 units a year
With the new models, the C4 Cactus, the vehicle that the brand produces in Spain, in the factory of PSA Villaverde (Madrid), is misplaced, something that will be remedied by the update of the same, of which Linda Jackson hopes ” sales are 70,000 units per year. ” This would be great news for the Madrid plant in Villaverde, which last May signed a three-year Temporary Employment Regulation (ERTE) to 2020. The reason is the lack of demand for the only model it produces, the C4 Cactus – which can be cannibalized by the C3 Aircross – whose production for this year will barely exceed 50,000 units.

If Jackson’s forecasts are met, the measures of the ERTE that affect a maximum of 431 workers could be softened. In 2018, 2019 and 2020, the forecasts were to produce about 50,000 units annually of the C4 Cactus, when the factory has capacity of 150,000 vehicles a year in two shifts. To get closer to those 70,000 units envisaged by the brand director, some of the layoffs with a return option could also be avoided, also in the ERTE signed by 92% of the workforce.

In exchange, PSA guarantees the viability of the plant with the arrival of a model, the C4, which will replace C4 Cactus in 2021, and with an investment of 144 million euros.

EL MUNDO – FÉLIX GARCÍA Fráncfort – FÉLIX CEREZO Ajaccio – 20 sep. 2017 (Translation Soft)

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