Automotive: DS offers a facelift to the locomotive of its sales

Outre un changement de nom (le terme Crossback va disparaître), la nouvelle D7 affiche des lignes extérieures un peu plus affirmées et des feux de jour très travaillés.

The shortage of semiconductors having upset the launch schedules in the automobile industry, the presentations of new models have been linked in recent days, especially at Stellantis. After Peugeot last week (with the 408) and before Citroën on Wednesday, it was DS’s turn to unveil its new version of the DS7 Crossback on Monday.

For the very young brand (barely eight years old), the stakes are high: arriving on the market in 2018, this high-end SUV “was a founding model, the first completely independent of Citroën”, recalls Béatrice Foucher , the general manager of the brand.

Relaunch mechanics

The DS7 Crossback also quickly established itself as its flagship product, winning the title of best-selling premium SUV in France in 2019 and 2020. In recent months, registrations have however fallen (3,200 registrations over the first five months in France against 12,000 for the whole of 2021), even if “order intake has not fallen”, suggests Béatrice Foucher . It is up to this mid-life renovation to restart the mechanics.

In addition to a name change (the term Crossback will disappear), the new DS7 displays slightly more assertive exterior lines, and very elaborate daytime running lights. Inside, the finishes, from the dashboard to the seat, remind us that elegance is one of the cardinal virtues of the brand. Under the hood, customers (companies in 70% of cases) will notably have the choice between three types of plug-in hybrid engines, including one with 360 horsepower.

Premium also on prices

Produced on the Mulhouse site like the current version, the new DS7 will arrive at dealerships before Christmas. It will undoubtedly assume prices related to its premium positioning (the Crossback costs from 40,000 to 70,000 euros depending on the version).

This high price, combined with the synergies made possible by the Stellantis group and the rigorous management that characterizes its boss Carlos Tavares, makes DS a profitable brand. Béatrice Foucher confirms this, without giving a figure.

Volumes that remain low

If the question arises, it is that volumes remain low, even for the premium universe. The number of copies worldwide has fallen from 62,000 copies in 2019 to just over 45,000 in 2020, and sales in 2021 “are between the levels of 2019 and 2020”, indicates the leader without further details.

France represents approximately 45% of the total, which seems a little high compared to the original ambition, which was to make the “art of French travel” prosper internationally. On the DS side, it is said on the contrary that this strong domestic anchoring legitimizes the brand and must be maintained.

The best for export

The successful launch of the DS4 at the end of last year gave new impetus to sales outside France, which increased by approximately 18% over 5 months in Europe and worldwide. “We have doubled our orders in Germany and the United Kingdom, and we have become the first premium brand in Argentina”, lists Béatrice Foucher.

The main export disappointment is located in China , or the group had to cut costs by selling the Shenzhen factory, which had just been inaugurated, to a supplier. DS must therefore buy from the latter the DS7s and DS9s that it sells on the spot. However, there is no question of leaving the country. “There is a territory for DS in this market, which needs to be grown,” she says.

Since the merger between PSA and Fiat Chrysler, DS has been part of Stellantis’ “premium pool”, alongside Lancia and Alfa Romeo. At the risk of stepping on each other’s toes? ” Nope. We don’t tell the same story, we don’t seek the same driving experience…” enumerates Béatrice Foucher.

The three brands also perform their annual “brand review” on the same day in front of Carlos Tavares. Motorisation, pricing policy… All these subjects are presented to Italian colleagues, each of whom can ensure that the positions remain complementary.

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