Only months before it rolls out the C6, the most expensive car it has ever produced, the French firm has ordered a probe into its lacklustre sales performance in the corporate sector.
Citroen Automobiles managing director Claude Satinet said: ‘We are bad in fleet sales for big cars and just as bad for small cars. We are not able to match the results we achieve with our retail sales in the fleet market and I would like to discover the reason for this.
‘For a model like the C6 that we will launch next year, the fleet market is more important than the retail market. This car will be a great success in France, Italy and Spain but I don’t expect to sell many examples in England.’
In an interview with Fleet NewsNet, he said he was disappointed about the prospects for the C6 but added: ‘I am realistic about it because it is not a problem with the car. The situation in England has more to do with our lack of ability to manage fleet sales.
‘This is a real problem for us and I do not have a solution. There is a huge difference between our market share in retail and our market share in fleet and this is important. It cannot be a difference of product – maybe it is about profitability or the habits of buyers, but we have a very bad performance and I want to investigate this.
‘I am pleased with our market share in retail but I am not pleased with fleet, so my instruction to the new boss in England is to improve the balance without affecting profitability.’
In the first eight months this year, Citroen UK’s fleet sales totalled 26,373 – 8.5% down on the 28,808 figure for last year.
A spokesman for Citroen UK, run by new MD Xavier Duchemin, said: ‘Our C4 range is a big success in the retail sector and has a 7% share, but we’re disappointed about its performance in fleet and this is now a priority. The car looks good, has class-leading diesel engines, low emissions, high safety and good pricing, so it should do better. We made no secret about pulling out of unprofitable fleet business, but we are working to regain the number three position in CV sales that we lost last year.’