Vehicle supplies are to be restricted next year as part of a bid to make models from the new DS brand more appealing to fleet market buyers in Britain.
Up to 5,000 fewer cars will be available as the fledgling PSA Group offshoot moves to add strength to its campaign to take on established front runners in the keenly-competitive premium car sector.
Compared with the 26,000 units delivered last year, planned volume to dealers in the DS Automobiles network for 2016 is to be capped at 21,000 units, Fleet News can reveal.
Under a plan devised by Arnaud Leclerc, the Peugeot Citroen Automobiles deputy director general with responsibility for developing the DS brand in the UK, greater control is to be exercised over deliveries to rental companies, short cycle arrangements and courtesy fleets.
“The UK is the second biggest market for DS, which was separated from Citroen in June last year to operate on a stand-alone basis and we have great success with our DS 3 hatchback and cabriolet models, which account for as much as 90 per cent of our business,” he said.
“However, we have ambitions for DS to win recognition as a premium brand. It took Audi a long time to be accepted alongside premium German rivals and we know it could take us between 10 and 15 years to be where we want to be in the market.
“We have already taken significant steps on our journey with the launch of the DS 5 four months ago and our latest DS 4 line-up. The last step in this stage of our offensive will come next year when introduce our new DS 3 models.”
In an exclusive interview, he said he was aiming to transfer the market success of the DS 3 into development of the brand, with particular emphasis on improving levels of customer care.
“I don't think we took sufficient care over the way we launched the original DS 4 and then the DS 5,” he said. “We allowed too many cars to go into short-cycle rental and residual values suffered as a result.
“Volumes to channels such as this will not be as big in future and we will be more careful about how we sell our cars - we need to take greater control while at the same time making sure that our products are offered at prices that are five per cent lower than those of comparable Audi models. I believe that if we can improve our retail market share, growth in B2B areas will follow.”
Currently, DS registrations are split equally between retail and fleet and Leclerc's target is for retail to account for 60% of volume.
He concluded: “Residual values are the key to our future, alongside the development of our own dealer network, which is now under discussion.
“I want our cars to appeal to people who are considering moving into premium motoring and like cars with an emphasis on French luxury.
“We are poised for some big moves. Dedicated DS dealerships will be operating by 2018 and they will be opening their doors in time for our next new cars – we will add three new model ranges to our line-up by 2020.”