Only yesterday as I was trudging round the shops in that post Christmas bargain search, another sign of the ‘motoring times’ came to remind me about the critically parlous state of the car game. Recently, I posted a feature about our local Vauxhall agent hitting the skids, but within a few depressing months, it’s happened again – my local Peugeot dealer is closing. Should I be surprised?
The local paper sadly broadcasted the fact that our local Citroen and Peugeot dealer is closing at the end of December with the loss of 30-plus jobs. What a kick in the teeth for the handful of staff who joined them from the aforementioned failed Vauxhall enterprise – and equally depressing considering the site was the subject of a management buy out only a couple of months earlier. This was a big site comprising of a large used car pitch, two glass houses and a busy Shell petrol station, all situated on a busy roundabout next door to a decently sized retail park – in an affluent market town.
So far as location is concerned, its virtually perfect in every way – so how could this place fail and is there a bigger picture to be viewed here? Well, Citroen has seemingly found its mojo once again and while the DS range seems to be attracting a fair bit of interest. No one seems to care about Renault, but the Dacia brand will uplift its alarming loss of sales.
But what of Peugeot these days? exactly who buys them and who remotely understands their confusing cluttered range? Generally nobody. Which is why its is in a bit of tizz somewhat?
Slowly but surely, Peugeot dealers have been dropping off like autumn leaves. It wasn’t always this way. Peugeot’s range was once easy to understand, fairly reliable, sometimes stylish, popular and a cut above other Gallic brands. And the of course, there was the ‘cinq effect’ of almost guaranteeing success by making the last digit a five. Customers once beat down the showroom doors for the 205, 305, 405 and 505. But it seems Peugeot has endured an uphill battle since the death of the 406.
This Pug was possibly the best riding/handling saloon car of its generation – and I have owned a driven a good few examples. They never failed to leave a lasting impression of soothing smoothness that made journeys along endless black ribbons of tarmac enjoyable and to be encouraged. Its replacement, the 407, looked futuristic in comparison yet downright ugly to most people. If you want French with slightly bonkers looks allied with a modern take on form and function that all just simply works – Citroen is everything one requires.
Even in France, Peugeot is in a pickle. Parent company PSA feels like British Leyland was in the mid- to late-1970s – a sprawling money-hungry animal with a ferocious appetite for ready cash and no obvious direction towards its future or survival. As mentioned, the dealers are fading away in the UK – my old employer binned its Pug showroom in 2007, a while before the recession, blaming a confusing range and a disinterested public as the main reasons. Yet, now it seems all Peugeot do to stem flagging sales and public apathy is bung another ‘0’ on the badge – like 3008 or 2008.
And of course, add nought and nought together and what do you get? Nothing!