Interview with Martin Gurney, Director Fleet and Used Vehicles, Groupe PSA
MARTIN Gurney can play numbers well. And why not?
The Fleet Director for Groupe PSA has only good numbers for Citroen.
Group global sales reached 3.9m – a record.
In Europe the group was up 31% to 3.1m sales (including Vauxhall/Opel). Of which Citroen contributed 825,000 vehicles – the highest for seven years.
And in the UK, the company did 75,000 cars and vans for a 2.75% market share. In true fleet, Citroen grew sales by 6.8%.
And that’s before Citroen faced the second half of 2019 with growing sales of the C5 Crossover SUV, its brand new entrant into the C-SUV sector.
It’s been a long road for Gurney and his team to turn around the Citroen image, put a virtual halt to short-term cycle activity. Gurney also says that this is the first time Citroen has launched the car without daily rental support.
“We’ve worked hard on the RVs for this car,” says Gurney. “Partly because it’s a new car for Citroen in this segment, and partly to maintain the constant improvement in RVs we’ve been seeing. There’s still some scepticism that we haven’t changed how we go to market. But we have; and we want to protect that position.”
Gurney points out that CAP gave the C5 Aircross a 42% retained value after three years/60,000 miles. That’s second – by one percentage point – only to the Kia Sportage. And well ahead of the Nissan Qashqai (37%) and Ford Kuga (36%).
“It’s not just Citroen, but across all three brands – Citroen, DS, Peugeot – that we’re committed to maintaining residual values. It’s important that this carries over into the next wave of products.”
Initial leasing rentals suggested the C5 Aircross SUV was in good territory. The key fleet model, according to Gurney, is the 1.5 BlueHDI 130 Flair 5dr EAT8 auto.
Many of the leading leasing brokers had already made a call on the lease rentals before the car went on sale.
On a 3+36/30,000 profile, Intelligent Car Leasing had it booked at £245 a month; £217 a month from Nationwide Vehicle Contracts; while leasing company LeasePlan had the same car on at £253 but on a 6+35 profile. Citroen’s captive Free2Move Lease had not issued a lease rental at the time of writing (January 31, 2019).
The typical rival in that sector would be the Kia Sportage 1.6 CRDi ISG 2 DCT auto. Nationwide Vehicle Contracts was booking this at £261 per month.
“The new C5 Aircross SUV range is strong. It will work well in the Public Sector, jobs needs, but the golden opportunity is for user choosers. It’s where we are really trying to position the car with leasing companies. We’ve not had such an opportunity before in this sector.”
Gurney says that he expects the C5 Aircross to sell around 8000 vehicles in 2019 with 2000 of those going through the corporate channel. “It’s a strong retail proposition, too. I expect the ratio to be 3 to 1 in favour of retail to true fleet.
“We took orders before the car went on sale which is a good sign. So far orders are split evenly between petrol and diesel. Despite the reservations some people still have about diesel, the diesel is a strong proposition with good CO2 emissions.”
Sub 50g/km PHEV model will strengthen Citroen’s fleet offering
The key fleet Flair 1.5 Diesel auto model has CO2 of 107g/km. It means company car tax starts from £122 a month in the 2018/19 tax year; £136 for the 2019/20 tax year.
“I’m convinced that once we get Brexit out of the way, the Government will move on the 4% diesel supplement. The Government simply cannot achieve its CO2 targets without diesel. It has lower NOx, lower CO2 and the only reason not to choose a diesel is because of the 4% surcharge.
“Having said that we have a strong range of Pure Tech petrol engines too. But it does concern me that we have customers making the wrong decision to go petrol when they are running high mileages simply because of the diesel tax distortion.”
While the new C5 Aircross goes on sale with a price range of £23,225 through to £32,725 at the top end, an electric version will boost the range in early 2020.
This will be a PHEV with sub-50g/km emissions and some 30 mile capability in zero emission mode. “I think this will play strongly to the corporate sector,” added Gurney.
Until then, the C5 Aircross SUV has got off to a strong start with forward orders, good RVs, and competitive leasing rentals before it went on sale on February 04, 2019.
Come January 2020, Mr Gurney may well be playing more numbers with us. With figures that surpass 2018.
Read our review of the Citroen C5 Aircross.