Gone for decades, French automaker Peugeot plans US return

February 27, 2019

Peugeot was last seen in the U.S. in 1991, but next decade, the French brand plans to return to American showrooms.

On Tuesday, Peugeot parent company PSA Group confirmed it had selected the brand over its Citroen subsidiary to lead the company's return to the U.S. and Canada. The decision comes hot on the heels of impressive financial results for the French automaker, which made a net profit of $3.7 billion and sold 3.88 million vehicles during the last fiscal year. PSA's acquisition of General Motors' European unit Opel also bolsters the French automaker's manufacturing capacity and technical knowhow. 

PSA sells cars in nearly every market other than the U.S. and Canada, including Mexico. 

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Details on Peugeot's return to the U.S. are slim and it's unclear if any of its current lineup will be sold here. Models sold in globally range from the small 108 subcompact car to the 5008 crossover SUV that's sized about like the Subaru Forester.

Ahead of the brand's return, Automotive News (subscription required) reported that PSA has honed in on 15 states and four Canadian provinces to begin the distribution of Peugeot models. A timeframe isn't concrete, but last year, the automaker said it wants to implement the North American return no later than 2026.

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On the decision to bring Peugeot to the U.S. and not one of the automaker's other brands (PSA operates Citroen, DS, Opel, and Vauxhall), PSA North America chief Larry Dominique said Peugeot is the best fit for North America. He cited brand awareness and preference for the decision, noting U.S. consumers tended to have positive awareness of Peugeot even after its exit in 1991.

Dominique dismissed the idea of U.S. production in the future, however, and said that cars bound for our American shores will be sourced from Europe and China.

Ahead of the brand's arrival, PSA will continue to operate its Free2Move car-sharing service. The brand launched in Seattle in 2017 and expanded to Washington, D.C., last year. The service provides the automaker with crucial data about U.S. consumers and their driving habits before Peugeot launches by the mid-2020s.

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