There’s no denying that the PSA Peugeot Citroen group is hurting in Europe – its market share in its home continent has narrowed from a semi-healthy 12.8% in 2007 to just 10.9% last year. But worry not, PSA aficionados, as there’s a new man with a plan heading the show now, in the form of the group’s new CEO, Carlos Tavares.

The 55-year-old Portuguese is an engineer by training, but he’s also a an accomplished racing car driver. He joined the PSA group following a long 33-year tenure at French rival firm Renault, where he started off as a test driver. There, he led the successful revival of the second-gen Megane (which evolved into the legendary RS 230 R26), and even introduced the Renault Alpine A110-50 concept to the world in 2012.

Now in charge of both Peugeot and Citroen, Tavares has presented a new “Back in the Race” plan – a near-term roadmap to step up the PSA group’s recovery, especially in Europe. The extensive four-part strategy focuses on minimising losses while increasing profitability across all brands. Easier said than done, this.

Most drastic of all is the group’s intent on gradually streamlining its product range, effectively cutting the currently bloated stable of 45 different models down to just 26 by 2020. A more focused global product plan that is more aligned with market demand will not only improve margins (by targeting more profitable segments), but also cut down on R&D spend as well (by optimising the use of platforms).

Through this recovery plan, the development of the DS line into a full-fledged premium brand will be stepped up. It will then head PSA’s new three-tier market approach (Citroen, Peugeot, DS, in order of price and prestige), giving each brand a distinct identity to complement, rather than compete with each other.

Also in the framework are continued developments of new plug-in hybrid and four-wheel-drive powertrains to increase product competitiveness. If everything goes to plan, PSA Peugeot Citroen will truly be back in the game. There’s a lot riding on this, Mr Tavares.

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