October 11, 2018 06:01 CET
Citroen CEO Linda Jackson has indicated that the next C1 will be electric as the deadline approaches for PSA Group and its small-car partner Toyota to agree on their next joint minicars.
“That segment is getting smaller and smaller in terms of volume, so I think it’s going to evolve,” Jackson told Automotive News Europe last week on the sidelines of the Paris auto show. Asked in which direction the C1 would evolve, Jackson said, “I think probably electric.”
The near-identical Citroen C1, Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo are built in the Czech Republic at the Toyota Peugeot Citroen Automobile plant, which has a capacity of 300,000 cars. The second-generation models were launched in 2014, and the two companies will come together within the next 12 months to decide on the direction of the third, Toyota said.
Whether Toyota participates in the third generation depends on whether the two companies can agree on the model’s direction, the chairman of Toyota Europe, Didier Leroy, told journalists on the sidelines of the Paris show.
“If we find some common strategy, then we can continue,” Leroy said. “If we have a different strategy, that could be a reason to stop it.”
Leroy said Toyota’s relationship with PSA is excellent.
Jackson said the direction of Citroen’s city car will be driven by changes to urban mobility. “It’s going to be a question of how that segment evolves and how do we provide that type of transport for the people,” she said.
The Aygo is an important model, and Toyota would like to continue with it, Toyota Europe CEO Johan van Zyl told Automotive News Europe. “The profile of the customer is much younger, which is good for us,” van Zyl said. “And secondly, it’s the biggest conquest brand for us, so it brings new customers into the fold.”
Van Zyl said it was important that Toyota remain in that market to attract younger customers, who are more likely to be living in cities.
Toyota’s European sales head Matt Harrison hinted the brand’s future plans could include a crossover minicar. “Is there a risk we get a more crossover design, a less traditional body type like we’ve seen in the B-segment and C-segment? It’s a possibility,’ he told Automotive News Europe at the sidelines of the Paris show.
Toyota sold 50,847 units of the Aygo in Europe in the first half, according to market researchers JATO Dynamics. That compares with 31,385 for the Peugeot 108 and 27,881 for the Citroen C1. The Aygo was the fourth-best-selling city car after the Fiat 500, Fiat Panda and Volkswagen Up.
Volkswagen already markets the e-Up electric city car, while Skoda will launch an electric version of its near-identical Citigo next year. Citroen and Peugeot still sell rebadged versions of the Mitsubishi I-MiEV electric city car, albeit in small numbers.
Renault unveiled the K-ZE electric city car, based on the Kwid crossover, at the Paris show ahead of China sales next year and globally after that, but no other markets were announced.
You can reach Nick Gibbs at email@example.com.