With only the premium C5 Aircross on sale and barely a dozen dealers across India, Citroen is certainly what one would call niche. However, the French brand’s next step is a leap straight into the thick end of the Indian automotive market with the launch of the C3 hatchback in July this year, which will compete in the high volume sub 4-metre segment.
The big surprise, however, is an all-electric compact car set to arrive as early as 2023. The company also plans to ramp up its dealer network exponentially to cater to higher sales volumes these mass market models would bring.
Speaking to the Indian media, Carlos Tavares, CEO of the Stellantis group, said, “First of all, I want to say our electric vehicles under the smart-car programme are engineered in India and the first EV will arrive next year.” The smart car programme – also called the C-cubed programme – will see a range of compact and affordable cars built on Citroen’s CMP platform with India as the global production base.
Citroen to bring wide range of EVs to India
Tavares did not spell out exact details on Citroen’s first EV for India, but he did confirm that it would be a sub-4-metre model based on the same platform as the C3, and that it would be followed up by multiple models with different body styles. “We are going to bring not only compact EVs that fall under the Indian market segment of less than 4m, but we will also bring EVs to people movers with the next products we launch. So we will bring MPVs, CUVs and the likes,” said Tavares.
Whilst the launch of the C3 itself has been delayed by nearly a year due to disruptions caused by the pandemic, the EV variant is on track. “Like others, we too have suffered setbacks with the global situation, but that the EV will arrive next year is clear,” Tavares confirmed.
He further emphasised that an EV version on this platform was always the plan. “Since day one of the smart-car programme, about four to five years ago, we knew the direction the market was headed towards and decided that those products will also have an EV version,” said Tavares.
Making EVs affordable
Tavares also stressed that Citroen’s first EV for India would be affordable, adding, “The task for EVs in India is twofold: to have clean energy to power them and to make them affordable, and that second part is in our hands.”
He said that while he was pleased with the level of engineering and development gone into making the cars more localised, and thus affordable, the batteries – the costliest component in an EV – will initially be imported. “The cars we will make from Chennai will have over 90 percent localisation. We would have liked to have batteries also from India, however, sourcing them locally is not possible as yet. As soon as this becomes a reality though, we will move towards sourcing batteries in India.”
With the launch of its compact electric vehicle next year, Citroen will massively leapfrog established players who are all slowly finding their way in the rapidly emerging EV space. Market leader Maruti will only have its first EV by 2025, while Hyundai – also a dominant player in the compact space – will launch an affordable EV about two to three years from now. Tavares predicts that by 2025 the EV penetration of the Indian market would be five to ten percent, and could go up to as much as 25 percent by 2030.
The other exciting proposition for Stellantis is using the platform to underpin electric Jeeps. The American SUV maker recently previewed what would be its first all-electric product, also said to be underpinned by the CMP architecture. With the Jeep brand looking to expand its presence and portfolio in the Indian market, expect Stellantis to leverage synergies between both Citroen and Jeep here.
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unknown - 378 days ago
Most likely Citroen would have exited India by then!
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