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Peugeot will spearhead PSA's American comeback

by Ronan Glon

The first U.S.-spec Peugeot models since 1991 will arrive by 2026.

When Paris-based PSA announced it would return to the United States, it didn't specify which one(s) of its five brands would take it into our market. Carlos Tavares, the company's chief executive, revealed Peugeot will lead the charge.

"We made the decision Peugeot will be the brand to take us back to North America. We believe bringing the brand that three times won the Indianapolis 500 is the right thing to do," he said during a press conference, according to Autocar. Peugeot won the event in 1913, 1916, and 1919.

Peugeot officially began selling cars in America in 1958, but it closed its American division in 1991 due to slow sales, and it hasn't been back since. PSA is wisely planning a careful, gradual return, and the only time-frame it has provided as of early 2019 is that it wants to sell cars to customers in the United States by 2026. We may see some of its models on our shores before then, but they'll be part of car-sharing programs launched to gather insight into the preferences of American motorists.

Tavares added Peugeot will return to the United States in an "unconventional, frugal, and creative way." U.S.-spec cars will initially be built in China or in Europe, and they will be imported to America. He said his team is waiting to see the outcome of the trade war between China and the United States before making a final decision on which cars it will sell here, and where they will be built.

How Peugeot will distribute cars is up in the air at this point. Tavares' team developed a "creative" sales and distribution strategy, Autocar learned, but Peugeot isn't ready to tell the world what it's planning yet.

PSA will release additional details about Peugeot's American comeback in the next few years. The group also owns Citroen, DS, Opel, and Vauxhall. It hasn't revealed whether any of these brands will eventually sell cars in the United States.

Citroen closed its American division in 1974, largely because its smaller cars were too under-powered for American tastes, and its bigger cars equipped with a height-adjustable suspension didn't comply with bumper height regulations enforced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Opel left in 1979 after selling cars through Buick dealers, and later peddling badge-engineered Isuzus. Vauxhall last sold a car in the United States in 1962.

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