Peugeot has big plans to increase its presence in Asia, and Malaysia – via its partner Naza – plays a major role in this programme. At a press conference this afternoon, Peugeot deputy managing director Nicolas Wertans unveiled the company’s new identity for the first time outside of France (simultaneous with the launch of the 408 in China) and laid out what’s in store for us in the near future.
Peugeot plans to make Naza’s Gurun plant its right-hand drive manufacturing hub that will not only serve the ASEAN region, but possibly Australia, New Zealand and even South Africa. Exports will start this year, where the T33 compact sedan will be shipped to Thailand and Indonesia.
Peugeot has started the expansion of its ASEAN regional office in Petaling Jaya and Mr. Wertans said that a new team is being sent from France to study the market. This team will be based here to better understand the taste and expectations of Malaysian carbuyers.
Five new models will be launched in 2010, the 3008, 5008, 308 CC, RCZ and T33 sedan. The 3008 is a crossover while the 5008 is Peugeot’s version of the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso. Moving on, the 308 CC is a metal folding roof coupe-convertible while the RCZ is a compact sports coupe that follows the Audi TT’s template, shown in the metal at last year’s Frankfurt show.
These cars are all fresh offerings, even in Europe, and the RCZ isn’t even on sale yet in the UK, so this blitz reflects our market’s newfound importance. No chance of these cars coming in with Peugeot’s excellent HDi diesels however; we’ll have to make do with petrol engines from the Prince family.
The T33’s impending launch has been covered on this blog before. It’s essentially a 206 Sedan with an updated nose, but Wertans won’t confirm the 207 Sedan name. To be launched by the end of the third quarter this year, it will come with a Peugeot badge (not Naza) and a 1.6-litre engine paired to a “Porsche” Tiptronic gearbox, likely to be the same drivetrain as the 308 VTi. With a sales target of 500 units per month, the T33 is set to be Naza’s bulk seller, taking over from the phased out 206 Bestari.
Meanwhile, the 408 that was launched hours ago in China, codenamed T73, could come in the near future. Wertans said that Peugeot “is seriously thinking about it, but it’s too early to tell”. The booted 308 is not a replacement for the 407, and isn’t likely to carry the “408” name in every market it’s sold in – besides China, it will go to Brazil, Russia, India and other developing markets.
These plans will further boost Peugeot’s Asia sales, which grew by 45% in 2009. The French company hopes to expand in emerging markets, as its core market becomes highly saturated (currently 60% of total sales are from Western Europe, where it holds a 7.2% market share).
The new lion logo, “Motion & Emotion” tagline, and design language previewed by the gorgeous SR1 concept forms part of a “major repositioning for the next decade” said Wertans. The SR1 features styling cues that will be on Peugeot’s next generation of cars (no more “big mouth” grille) while the part car, part scooter BB1 concept is confirmed for production. “It’s not if, but when it’s coming to Malaysia,” said Wertans of the four-seat BB1, although he must have looked very, very far ahead when saying that.