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How DS is developing its own brand identity

By raccars Published

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After a split from Citroen in 2014, has the car buying public really accepted DS as a distinct brand?

DS, previously known as Citroen DS, used to be a sub-brand representing Citroen's younger, funkier and smarter model line-up. The first model was the Citroen DS3 in 2010, a supermini offering a number of personalisation options, which won Top Gear's 'Car of the Year' award that year and went on to win a number of other industry accolades.

Sales success followed, with the DS3 taking more than a third of the European premium supermini market segment. DS4 and DS5 models followed. Citroen gradually worked through a process of separating its DS-branded cars from its mainstream line-up, starting by creating a distinct DS logo with which the models were badged instead of the familiar Citroen double chevron.

DS, the stand alone brand

By 2014, Citroen had decided that DS had made a convincing commercial case for itself and announced that it would be separating the two marques so that DS could stand alone as a distinct brand, thereby becoming PSA Peugeot Citroen's premium marque. In 2015, DS models represented 3.5 per cent of PSA's total global sales, but the firm's chief executive Yves Bonnefont has stated that he intends to increase DS's slice of the PSA pie to 10 per cent over the next decade. Nonetheless, Bonnefont has made it clear that DS plans to preserve its premium status and will be chasing prestige rather than volume.

The brand will be setting out its stall in some of the largest cities in the world and focusing its efforts on Europe and China rather than chasing world domination. DS concessions will be opened in some of these cities but in other locations DS is to be marketed from salons within Citroen dealerships or alongside Citroen in its showrooms without a distinct brand separation. Bonnefont claims he is under no obligation to PSA to produce dramatic sales volumes but, rather, is to craft a specific market position placing DS firmly among the 10-15 per cent of total market sales occupied by the existing premium brands.

A new model line-up

At the moment, the DS model line-up is still inextricably linked with its former parent company, with the DS3, DS4, DS Crossback and DS5 all released under Citroen's watchful eye. However, this month the next generation DS3 was introduced, the start of an all-new model range which is set to encompass six global models from 2018-2022. DS plans to include an SUV as part of its new model assault. The new DS3 is cosmetically and mechanically more modern than its predecessor, while DS also announced a performance model to compete in the hot hatch sector.

Developing new technologies

PSA has been working on a strategy for the development of its growing stable of brands in order to cover all consumer segments without diluting sales in any area. PSA will develop core new technologies to share among all three brands. Other new technologies will be assigned to one of the three brands to work as a pathfinder within the industry before sharing them once the new ideas have been publicly established. Other new technologies will be reserved for one of the three brands to use exclusively.

In its position as the premium marque of the three, DS expects to be the recipient of a number of new technology developments and will spearhead a thrust towards plug-in hybrid and electric models. However Bonnefont also claims that DS will be revisiting the past and working on new chassis developments inspired by the original, legendary DS model of the Fifties. Reports suggest that the firm is already working on a new, bespoke suspension layout which is to be exclusive to DS.

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