Car-sharing service could lead to commercial return of PSA brands in the U.S.

French automaker PSA’s noticeable absence in the U.S. is about to come to end. But before anybody gets too excited about the possibility of buying the latest Peugeot or Citroen model, the return of these brands to this side of the world won’t happen in the manner most people are hoping for. That’s because the French automaker is instead tapping into the growing car-sharing service industry with the announcement of its partnership with the Bollore Group to introduce a car-sharing service to the U.S. market.

According to Fortune, the introduction of a car-sharing service in the U.S., beginning with Los Angeles, is a part of a long-term turnaround plan that also includes investments and expansions into other areas of the industry. In addition to this burgeoning platform, PSA is reportedly looking into getting involved in parts distribution and vehicle leasing.

The partnership with the Bollore Group isn’t a new transaction either. The two companies have done a lot of business together in the past, most notably with the E-Mehari electric utility vehicle that was shown last December 2015. The partnership between the two sides on the car-sharing service was even hinted at as recently as April 2016 when Tavares indicated the automaker’s intention of offering mobility services in the U.S. before making any decisions on bringing back both Citroen and Peugeot as commercial brands in the region.

Part of this car-sharing service plan with Bollore Group includes using LA as the test bed for the program. If it proves to be successful, the service could expand into other major U.S. cities to coincide with Tavares’ goal of generating more than $300 million in revenue for the company by 2021.

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What can we expect from the ride-sharing service?

There are a lot of details to sift through here, none of which is more important than the return of PSA to the U.S. market in some capacity. Sure, it’s not ready to sell its vehicles in the market yet, but Carlos Tavares didn’t exactly close the door on that possibility. It could still happen provided that the market shows that it’s ready for it.

Then there’s the actual part about the car-sharing service, which in itself is becoming an important project for a lot of automakers in the business. PSA, for instance, already has an electric car-sharing service in Paris so it’s not really diving into the unknown by offering the same service in Los Angeles. Having the Bollore Group in the mix is a big advantage too as the latter has been known to be one of the best in the business of electric batteries. As I said before, the two companies already have a working relationship as the Bollore Group is responsible for the Lithium Metal Polymer (LMP) battery that is used on the Citroen E-Mehari. It has been a mutually beneficial partnership so far and if the car-sharing service in the US goes off, we could see bigger things to come out of this long-standing collaboration.

Tavares didn’t dive into the details of the planned car-sharing service in the U.S., including the actual timetable on when the service will begin or the sort of cars that will be brought to the U.S. Considering the purpose of the business, don’t expect to see any compact cars from Peugeot, Citroen, or DS to be included. Citroen’s C4 Cactus and the Picasso line are good bets as they provide ample space for occupants and they’re likely one of the models that PSA wants to gauge in the event it enters the US market. As far as sedans are concerned, the E-Elysse is as good a choice as any since it already runs on electric. The only question is whether PSA would want to expand its offering of that model outside of the Chinese market. If the E-Elysse is out of the question, look for Citroen to consider using the C4 and quite possibly, the C6 sedan for the more upmarket clientele.

On the Peugeot side, the 2008 and 3008 are noteworthy options. Sadly, I don’t expect any of the performance models to be included in the car-sharing service for obvious reasons. That means no Peugeot RCZ and none of the DS models.

Source: Fortune

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