When Peugeot Citroën made the decision to rebadge the DS line as its own make in 2015, it had already been a part of the modern Citroën brand for five years, and another twenty back in the 1950s through 70s, so you might wonder just what drove them to do it. After all, the cars would be the same under the hood no matter whose name was on them.
Of course, the line had already been its own brand in China for three years by the time the switch was made in the UK, and this decision must have served the French manufacturer well for them to want to make it international, so again we have to wonder why.
To answer that question, we need to look at other recent decisions by Peugeot Citroën about the brand.
Aiming for a New Audience, Gunning for a New Rival
Robins and Day, the line of dealerships owned by Citroën, recently opened a boutique DS store in London’s high-end Westfield shopping centre, whose customer base overlaps with the target audience of the DS line according to the company’s UK director general, Stephane Le Guevel.
Rather than a traditional showroom, this is more of an information centre where buyers can customise their cars with state-of-the-art digital interfaces before purchase. It seems DS is hoping to be a luxury brand for a discerning audience, which fits in with the manufacturer’s stated intention to compete with brands like Audi and Lexus.
To do this the line will need to forge its own distinct identity, and this is probably the main reason for the split. It’s not unusual for a car manufacturer to market its products under multiple brands to appeal to different audiences, and it seems to have worked for companies like BMW with it’s Mini line and Skoda, who are now part of Volkswagen.
If this new store tells us anything its that DS is set to take a holistic approach to building a luxury brand, with every step of buying, owning, and driving the car set apart from the average experience, and if this experiment continues we can’t wait to see what they’ll come up with next.