Fans of fast French automobiles will be saddened to hear that Peugeot has pulled the pin on performance products, concentrating instead on building its core range in the immediate term.
The announcement comes from Peugeot CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato, who discussed the brand’s future plans with the UK’s Autocar.
“Right now our main goal is to grow to beyond two million units a year, but also to spread our footprint and to sell more than 50 percent of our cars outside of Europe," Imparato said.
“Until we do that, I’m much more interested in cars that sell in hundreds of thousands than those that sell in smaller numbers.”
The “smaller numbers” he’s referring to include low-volume image enhancing cars like the RCZ coupe, of which no replacement is planned. The move also rules out a higher-performance version of the 308, which had been previously shown as the 308 R Hybrid concept and later as a prototype vehicle.
Imparato didn’t rule out a future performance car entirely though, leaving the door open to a return to high-performance motoring over the longer term with the suggestion that a car that might be able to claim a Nurburgring lap record would mark Peugeot’s performance return.
“With Peugeot Sport, I believe we have the team to make such a car. It would be expensive, but so what? We could do it,” he claimed.
While cars with enthusiast appeal aren’t high on Peugeot’s list of priorities, workhorse vehicles are, with Imparato reviving talk of a Peugeot branded 4x4 ute, a vehicle considered vital to the French automaker’s plans to launch a full-scale return to the African market.
“With a one-tonne pick-up truck, we can tap into a huge global market. We could either develop one within the group or with a partner, and our existing connections” Imparato revealed, reinforcing suggestions that Groupe PSA (Peugeot and Citroen's parent company) could turn to existing commercial vehicle partner Toyota for assistance.
With the current generation HiLux only two years into its product cycle, Peugeot would have plenty of time to create its own version of Toyota’s one-tonne ute, allowing it to compete with vehicles like the Renault Alaskan and Fiat Fullback, themselves developed from the Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi Triton respectively.
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