DS plots its course for the connected car

Connectivity should be seen as a major liberator for automotive industry too often trammelled by the constraints of its hardware.

This is the opinion of Yves Bonnefont director general of PSA Group’s premium sub-brand, DS. He sees the opportunities that the connected car brings can only boost engagement between the carmaker and its customers.

Speaking exclusively to TU-Automotive, he said: “The connected car requires the combination of on-board and off-board technology. While the on-board tends to be very modular in the automotive area with the need to enjoy economies of scale, you have a whole world of software where you can offer a lot of customised offerings and services with the off-board.”

However, other disruptive technologies such as autonomous driving will face challenges in how and where it will be adopted on a mass scale, said Bonnefont. Answering journalists’ questions at the final meeting of the UK’s Fleet Street Motoring Group, he did not think sweeping regulation to accelerate the adoption of driverless vehicles would happen very rapidly. Bonnefont said: “The equivalent question would be in the UK: how would you manage driving on the other side of the road? The average vehicle in the carpark is 10 years old and you are not going to say tomorrow everything has to change or that people with a car that is not new cannot go into a certain part of the city. It has to happen as a continuum so we have to manage that situation.”

Bonnefont also sees mobility as a vital area for a premium brand to exploit by engendering badge loyalty even when cars are not owned by the consumer. He explained: “We have created DS Rent where you can rent a car and have it delivered or picked up from where you want. We want to be available when our customers are available. It’s to help our customers enjoy the universal coverage of DS where you want a DS you get a DS. This will be run through our dealer networks and we are rolling this out at the moment.”

Similarly, Bonnefont does not see the DS brand forcing an all-electric range on consumers but, rather, to meet the expected increase in demand from some customers. He said:“A carmaker [today] would have a problem going all electric because Tesla already does that and was born electric. However, at DS we believe we will reach one third of our sales in hybrid or full electric in the early 2020s. This is five years ahead of what we used to think because I believe the uptake will become faster.”


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