While the media is abuzz with Kia and MG’s Indian entry in 2019, PSA is silently working on its re-entry in the market this decade. The company is currently locally testing components using the Peugeot 208.
A Team-BHP reader spotted a Peugeot 208 test mule undergoing road testing in Pune recently. PSA Group is testing components for its ‘Smart Car’ project, which involves developing a trio of sub-compacts. These models are internally called Smart Car 1 (Hyundai i20 rival), Smart Car 2 (Hyundai Creta rival) and Smart Car 3 (Hyundai Verna rival). They will ride on the Common Modular Platform (CMP).
CMP is a platform developed in cooperation with China's Dongfeng Motors. It is compatible with B-segment hatchbacks, B- and C-segment sedan and B-segment CUV. It even has a variant offering EV compatibility named 'eCMP,' which PSA Group will need in India in the long-run as the country is pushing OEMs for pure electric cars.
PSA Group hasn’t announced under which brand will it sell models in India, but a report in June said that the first model would be the Citroen C5 Aircross SUV. It owns five brands, namely, Peugeot, Citroen, DS, Opel and Vauxhall. Peugeot is known to Indian customers because of its infamously short-lived stint in the market back in the 1990s, while Citroen makes more sense not just because of its less sophisticated and more accessible product lines, but as it comes without baggage. DS, Opel and Vauxhall are out of the question in all likeliness.
In January 2017, the CK Birla Group and the PSA Group signed two JV agreements. The first agreement stated that the latter will hold a majority stake in the JV company set-up with the former’s HMFCL (Hindustan Motor Finance Corporation Limited) for the assembly and distribution of PSA vehicles in India. The second agreement involved setting up a 50:50 JV between PSA Group and CK Birla’s AVTEC for manufacture and supply of powertrains.
In November 2017, PSA-AVTEC Powertrain 50:50 JV company was formed and the ground-breaking ceremony of their plant (in Hosur, Tamil Nadu) was held. This plant will have an initial manufacturing capacity of about 2,00,000 units per year. The India-made PSA vehicles will get their engines and gearboxes from this plant, where production is expected to commence by early 2019.
PSA Group will likely locally assemble the C5 Aircross from CKD kits from imported from the Rennes-La Janais plant (France). Following the launch of this premium model, which will help it shape its brand and get the desired imagery in the market, it will roll out the Smart Car range of locally manufactured models that will help it get into the volumes race.
[Image Source: team-bhp.com]