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[Herald Interview] Citroen reenters Korea with higher hopes

French carmaker Citroen aims to sell up to 2,500 cars a year in Korea when it resumes imports of vehicles after a nine-year hiatus, Eric Dumondelle, chief of the company’s Asia Pacific division said Thursday.

Introducing a series of models including DS3 models it will launch in the Korean market at the Seoul Motor Show 2011, Dumondelle said Citroen hopes to benefit from the Korea-EU Free Trade Agreement due to go into force from July.

“We at Citroen have a new logo, new technology and it was the right time (to come back) because of Korea’s trade pact with Europe,” Dumondelle told The Korea Herald.

“The Asia region is our priority market and Korea sits among its highest.”

The Korea-EU FTA signed on Oct. 6 will gradually remove the current 8 percent tariff on European cars exported to Korea.

Citroen is one of many European carmakers that believe potential customers will be less likely to be local and more likely to turn to reasonably priced imported cars.
Eric Dumondelle, chief of Citroen’s Asia Pacific. division (Cynthia J. Kim/The Korea Herald)
Eric Dumondelle, chief of Citroen’s Asia Pacific. division (Cynthia J. Kim/The Korea Herald)

The deal, yet to be ratified by the Korean National Assembly, is scheduled to go into effect July 1.

Citroen vehicles were available in the 1990s and early 2000s through Sam-whan Camus, the official importer of Peugeot vehicles, but were pulled back in 2002 due to poor sales.

Citroen belongs to PSA Peugeot Citroen Group.

Citroen’s Asia chief boasted of the creative range the DS3 series brings to customers seeking customized cars.

“Citroen are known to be creative, anti-retro cars. We have 38 differentiations available with DS3 models ― inside, outside, roof, and body colors.”

“We also put focus on the atmosphere and ambience for drivers cocooning inside the car.”

The DS3 series is outselling the Mini in Italy, Germany and France and has notched 76,000 sales in Europe in less than a year.

Citroen is waiting for authorities to clear import permits expected before October this year.

Dumondelle refrained from commenting about prices.

By Cynthia J. Kim (cynthiak@heraldcorp.com)
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