Posted by: Paraic | August 11, 2008

Vive la France

We went car shopping this weekend (another thing on the long list of things to do).  I’ve been commuting by bus (Matthews coach) from Dundalk to DCU since I moved in February, but now that the family is here too and we’re looking at living more ‘in the country’ a car (more likely two) is on the agenda.

We ended up looking at Peugeots.  My wife liked the 308sw (diesel engine) because it seats 7 (assuming little kids in the very back) but is nothing like her old hulking Ford Winstar that (maybe) got 18 or 19 miles per gallon.

It struck me though.  There are no French cars in the US market.  Basically the common cars (excluding the high end luxury cars) are all US, Japanese or German (Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Volkswagen), plus some Korean (Hyundai/Kia).  [I had thought Saab was another exception but just learned it’s owned by GM.  I knew Volvo was owned by Ford].  No Renault, no Peugeot, no Citroën.  Those are all popular brands here.

I remember reading some time ago a story of Peugeot in the US market.  It was a story of innovation gone wrong because of a lack of appreciation for the customer.  It was about Peugeot innovating in feul injection technology.  The problem was that people were used to pumping the gas peddle in their cars to prime the engine before starting and this caused the new Peugeot engines to flood and not start.  Peugeot’s response was that people would simply have to change their behaviour – rather than them try to address this problem in some way.  That was the wrong approach. (The new technology did eventually take hold, because it was better, but Peugeot lost the advantage).

I couldn’t find reference to this story online.  I did find a story in a book on Consumer Boycotts about a boycott of Peugeot [page 85] in the US market related to passenger airbags that may or may not have contributed to Peugeot’s decision in 1991 to pull out of the US market.  I also found a number of reports sugggesting that there has been some recent interest on Peugeot’s part in returning to the US market.

I hope Peugeot is showing better customer appreication now.  I do like their cars.

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