Citroën has announced details of its new C-Aircross Concept that is intended to represent the brand's vision for a vehicle in the crossover space.
- Significance: Citroën has announced details of its new C-Aircross Concept that will be revealed at the Geneva Motor Show (Switzerland) next month.
- Implications: This is intended to represent the brand's vision for a vehicle in the crossover space as it makes a shift out of the sub-compact MPV space.
- Outlook: PSA will substantially broaden its offering in the crossover space in Europe among all its brands over the next few years, with these types of vehicles set to make up more than a quarter of its registration volume by the end of the decade.
Citroën has announced details and images of its new C-Aircross Concept that will be revealed at the Geneva Motor Show (Switzerland) next month. In a statement, the automaker said that it "offers a new vision of the compact SUV [sport utility vehicle]." The vehicle, which measures 4.15m long, 1.74m wide and 1.63m tall, follows in the footsteps of the recently launched third-generation B segment C3 in terms of its design direction. Among its key features are its short and raised bonnet and robust front end with split level light signature, as well as an appearance which offers a pretence of off-road capability with front and rear protection shields, wheel arch extensions and large wheels with high riding position. However, some emphasis has been given to aerodynamic efficiency, with air inlets located in the front bumper, air outlets in the side door guards, and a diffuser at the rear. The concept also features rear hinged rear passenger doors that have been used in other Citroën concept in recent years.
The interior uses a single piece fabric dashboard that benefits from a head-up display (HUD), a single-spoke steering wheel and a 12-inch touchscreen that can be split into a number of configurations. The touchscreen – installed in the centre of the dash – offers access to the Citroën Connect Nav satellite navigation system that can also play music or films or access a smartphone through Mirror Screen. Furthermore, the vehicle also features Citroën's ConnectedCAM system which was introduced on the new C3, while the front and rear headrests are equipped with their own built-in speakers. The seats are raised and suspended and benefit from embossed Alcantara with a quilt-effect, while the seats also adapt to the shape and size of each occupant. The interior gains a number of large storage spaces, such as in the dashboard, doors, seat side panels and centre console which also features induction charging for smartphones.
No word has been offered about the powertrain installed in to this concept, but Citroën did note that it has sought to give it some off-road capability with its Grip Control technology. Controlled by a dial in the centre console, this offers five different modes: Standard, Sand, Off-Road, Snow and ESP Off.
Outlook and implications
While there are undoubtedly certain features that will not reach production – most notably the "suicide" doors – this concept is likely to heavily represent the look of its forthcoming sub-compact crossover which will be the brands first bespoke offering in this category. This vehicle will replace the current Citroën C3 Picasso in the automaker's range, reflecting the shift in consumer demand from multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) to SUVs in recent years. In the European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA) region, the B-MPV category peaked at 565,700 units during 2005. While in the peak year for the C3 Picasso of 2010 - in which it sold around 77,000 units - the category sold around 432,000 units, this is anticipated to have fallen to 321,600 units during 2016. By comparison, the market for B SUVs is forecast to have grown from 121,300 units during 2010 to around 1.14 million units during 2016. There is also expected to be a further increase to 2.27 million units by the end of the decade as customer interest is piqued by new models like this.
Production of Citroën's new model will be undertaken by General Motors (GM) at its Zaragoza (Spain) plant beginning in the second half of 2017. It will be built as part of the partnership between the two automakers that was established when GM owned a stake in PSA. Although this holding has since been divested, the pair have three vehicle development projects that are coming to fruition: compact light commercial vehicles (LCV) and SUVs being built by PSA for GM, and this sub-compact SUV. Despite being built at a GM facility, the Citroën B-CUV (as we refer to it) will use PSA's PF1 platform. At the same time, this will also be used by Opel's Crossland X which will be built at the same site and will effectively be its sibling. This relationship will effectively help to increase output of this site from around 355,000 units during 2016 to 554,600 units during 2019, as GM tweaks its production allocation as well.
Furthermore, this indicates a further push into the crossover category for Groupe PSA in Europe. After a modest start with the first-generation Peugeot 3008 and Mitsubishi-sourced models, the introduction of the Peugeot 2008 and the second-generation Peugeot 3008 led to a substantial uplift in momentum, with a large order book for the 3008. In addition, its Peugeot 5008 has made a shift from the compact MPV category to the seven seat SUV segment. However, others are also on the way. As well as a sub-compact model, Citroën will also gain a compact SUV from next year. The DS Automobiles brand will also benefit from new sub-compact and compact SUVs with which to boost the attractiveness of its line-up to customers, the B SUV expected to effectively replace the DS3 which is phased out by the end of the decade. IHS Automotive anticipates that PSA's crossover volumes in EU and EFTA will grow from 263,600 units during 2016 to 540,700 units in 2020. This will be despite the OEM's registrations volumes reaching 1.887 million units by this point, versus around 1.854 million units during 2016. Of this, the Citroën B-CUV will record registrations of 68,300 units, having expected to have peaked at 84,800 units during 2018.
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