Life-style connectivity will stay portable for Citroën

Life-style connectivity will stay portable for Citroën

Not every carmaker is eyeing up the potentially lucrative life-style aspects of the connected car with Citroën insisting it will focus mainly on safety and driver assistance aspects of the technology.

Speaking to TU-Automotive, Linda Jackson CEO of the French manufacturer, said she expected to keep the embedded elements distinctly separate from mobile devices carried into the vehicle.

Nonetheless, she accepted that connectivity will bring a younger generation into the car-buying marketplace as it seeks to maintain social connection even on the move.

Speaking at a lunch meeting of the Fleet Street Motor Group, Jackson said: “Obviously, we want to attract newer customers – if I look at a C4 Picasso the average age of buyer is 54, it drops to about 45 with the C4 Cactus in certain markets.”

But she is adamant that the social media platforms in Citroën will remain on the user’s mobile device and only integrate with the vehicle through infotainment suites such as MirrorLink.

Jackson explained: “We have looked at connectivity in both the main ways, embedded and mobile. What we believe is that you should be able to get into your car and be immediately connected however that may be.

“It’s all about the technologies available and for Citroën the connectivity we would want to put into our cars are all about driving aids rather than gimmicky things. Our connectivity will concentrate on informing the owner of the car’s next service, etc, as opposed to some sort of social media platform. It’s possible this might attract some people but we believe they would prefer to use their phones for this sort of connectivity.

“So we will have embedded connectivity, including eCall, and then non-embedded connectivity via a smartphone. Like all manufacturers we are talking to all the main suppliers in this field.”

Despite this approach, Jackson admitted connectivity is currently joining powertrains, its 2017 replacement for the iconic hydraulic suspension, driver’s aids and autonomous features as the main focus, and investment, of Citroën’s research and development.

Mobility, too, occupies the carmaker’s future plans. Jackson said: “I am just at the moment of creating what I describe as my want-to-be for Citroën. I want Citroën to be a solution for mobility because, particularly for younger people, ownership is becoming less important. We are already testing car sharing in Berlin for example and we’re looking at innovative ways of doing that. We’re looking at classic car sharing with certain partners we are also looking at the possibility where a customer pays a certain amount a month and this gives them access to a certain car during the summer and a different one for winter.

“We are looking at all the solutions because, in future, we may not just be selling cars but be selling mobility.”

Jackson told us that she left school in the Midlands expecting to go to university to train as a teacher. But a chance internship through an uncle who worked at the Jaguar plant in Coventry changed the course of her career. Jackson, who holds an MBA from the University of Warwick, from 1977 went on to hold various positions in finance and sales at MG Rover Europe before joining Citroën in 2005 where she was the financial director of Citroën UK. In 2009 she became finance director of Citroën France and then managing director of Citroën UK and Ireland before taking her present role in June 2014.

She also sees telematics having an impact on lowering the customer age range through UBI packages linked to the manufacturer’s small cars.

Jackson said: “We’re seeing that the younger generation are buying used vehicles so we have to consider whether that’s just down to the pricing levels. So that’s why we have gone down the route of Simply Drive which is a monthly packages that includes insurance which has been an obstacle.

“We are looking at UBI and telematics and Peugeot has managed to drop the age of buyers of the 108 to just 18 using telematics based insurance. It’s an extremely important but that will break the barrier to younger buyers.”

Jackson stressed that new technology, in both electronics and the car’s infrastructure, will form an integral part of the carmaker’s product marketing.

She explained: “We define our products using three key markers: design, comfort and useful technology. Design is about having a car that immediately stands out and you recognise that it’s a Citroën. Comfort, we’re reinventing what Citroën has been good at, not just suspension but enlarging that to cover seats, storage and the way we drive.

“Our famous hydraulic suspension, still used on the C5, will be replaced by a new technology that will create a similar, if not better, Citroën ride and this will be extended across all of our models. So comfort is still going to be one of our key assets.

“Useful technology is all about simplicity as you’ll find in the C4 Cactus tactile screen.”

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