In conversation with Roland Bouchara, senior VP, Sales and Marketing, Citroen India
In conversation with Roland BoucharaSirish Chandran with Roland Bouchara

In conversation with Roland Bouchara, senior VP, Sales and Marketing, Citroen India

The ed gets a lowdown on Citroen’s India plans, right from the C5 Aircross, its buying experience, the ties with Tata Consultancy Services and the role the brand will play in engineering the brand’s new products 

We are the last to come to India

“[We will not] ignore the trend of the market and we have no transformation costs in terms of network, we do not have to [re-start] everything from scratch. Everyone wants to make business fully digitalised and that is the customer’s expectation.”

All of the activities can be from home

“Customer will be able to select the car, configure the car, add accessories, finance, insurance and buy the car online, right from the launch. The dealership consequently will be what we call Phygital, meaning smaller but completely digitalised with a big screen with 3D tool which will take the customers to the next step. There is an expression we use to say ‘Atawadack’ which means, anytime, anywhere, at any device, any content.

“I am not saying that we are eliminating the dealer, we need a dealer, because if you want to buy a car, even if someone if going to buy a car online, he will visit a dealer, take a test drive. It’s not like buying a t-shirt.”

We are not talking about a huge number [of dealers]

“It is very likely we start with 10 dealers. Then obviously we will develop the network. We will continue to expand and get ready to have enough dealers when we will launch the new platform which will be more important volume wise.”

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Our first car is the C5 Aircross

“It will be much more towards the Tucson and Tiguan. It will be a five-seater. [It will come] next year by September. Citroen’s USP is comfort. If you look at the Citroen history, right from the origin, comfort has always been the value and even illustrated by new technology.”

The work that we are doing with TCS is from a global approach

“It is not so often that an OEM is launching not one car but a new platform outside its domestic market or even the continent. The C-Cubed platform that we are going to start in 2021 is going to be localised in India, and first in India before any other countries. We have conceptualised this product and managed the localisation in India, defining a very competitive car within the mainstream segment. And something new that we have done is working with TCS [Tata Consultancy Services] in terms of engineering development.

“The new platform, we wanted to do it differently and working differently means that we wanted to be open minded. Being that we are in India, using the Indian intelligence for this activity, combined with our know-how to develop something that will fit the Indian market and even some other markets with a different approach. We are not starting from a blank page but we are going to be thinking differently with the collaboration with TCS for the Indian market.”

Roland Bouchara with the new CITROEN C5 AIRCROSS

There is no other secret than life cycle management

“The first to be able to launch a new model every year, it is what we are going to do. You manage life cycle by launching special editions when you need, then light facelifts, after a certain time heavy facelift, to keep the car fresh all the time. My main learning is, it is not enough to just launch a product in India. In India most of our competitors have had a huge success in the beginning and then they have a brutal fall. Why? Because we are in a country which is huge, the people want to see something new, something fresh very quickly. The point is the decline will come, but you need to smoothen it. This is the secret. This is the key.”

Technological progress that we use in rallying will be used on a road car somewhere down the line

“Citroen has been a champion in this kind of discipline many times. Secondly, many people in India have a background in rallying showing solidity and robustness which is so important for the Indian country because the roads are not perfect everywhere. This kind of value will contribute to the Citroen brand awareness in India and we know that we can communicate this activity because we have some credibility.

“Business is like a sport, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but the most important point is to make the effort and to move on from a technology point of view and then this stimulates everyone to make progress and that I believe is the healthy side of sport in general.”

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I do not believe that Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai will stay at 65 per cent

“Out of India’s 1.4 billion population only approximately 53 million buy a car and will grow to 75 million organically. People shifting from cycle or from used car to new car do not want to take any risk that is why they go with Maruti Suzuki or Hyundai and that is why they are representing 60-65 per cent of market share. And then you wonder why we have 26 brands within 25 per cent market share even after 15 years in the field. But more and more people will not be afraid of buying something new, something different and the market share will be spread out between the other manufacturers.”

We need to stay humble

“We need to implement properly the brand in India. Not so many people know Citroen. So we need to make our network profitable with good service quality and after sales delivery. This is my job. Credibility means profitability and then we can invest in new programs. I say we target about 2 per cent market share by 2023, which is quite fair. If the program goes well then we plan to launch in the premium segment, it will come by September 2021 and 2022.

Electrification of the range is now happening

“We do have a plan within the C-Cubed program. Electrification has been announced by the PSA group already.”

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