DS Automobiles came to China in 2012, but the following years have been lackluster.
The premium arm of French carmaker PSA suffered from poor brand-promotion and broke up with its joint venture partner earlier this year.
It is not quitting the Chinese market though. On Thursday night in Shanghai, a city nicknamed Paris of the East, the French marque announced its decision to make a second run in the world’s largest market.
“We reaffirm our ambition to be recognized as a premium brand in China, as the unique French premium brand,” said DS China Managing Director Nicolas Monnot.
He added that DS has learnt from the past, admitting that the brand’s unstable positioning and vague image made many confused about what they really wanted to achieve.
“Look at the market. There are so many brands, so many proposals and so many possibilities for the Chinese customers.
“If you are not clear what you are, what you stand for and what is you reason to be in this market, people forget you,” Monnot said.
This time, the niche marque wants to revamp its image in China with a special focus on French fashion and haute couture, which is well reflected in its new slogan that reads “aesthetics drives further”.
“Yes, it’s our common belief that injecting more aesthetics in everyday life makes the world better,” Monnot said.
He said there was a lot of debate about what features to emphasize, and finally they decided on style and French luxury know-how.
“We hope people also notice the word Paris under the logo, a simple but efficient way to remind customers on our origins and roots from Paris, France,” Monnot said.
But he was quick to add that technology is also important. The company doesn’t want customers to regard its vehicles as luxurious but lacking technology.
Alexandre Fils, product and marketing director of DS China, said bold designs, cutting-edge technologies and attention to detail are shared values among French luxury and haute couture companies. The DS 9 it presented on Thursday night is such a representation.
DS 9 is positioned as a mid-large size sedan, with a wheelbase measuring almost 2,900 mm. The sedan is over 4,900 mm, larger than most competitors.
“DS designers want to create a moving sculpture with a perfect blend between timeless large surfaces, graphical lines and luxury details,” Fils said.
DS also presented its DS 7 SUV and the electric vehicle DS 3 on the same night. DS 3 is scheduled to make the Chinese debut in 2021.
After five consecutive years of global decline, DS sales rose 16 percent to 61,989 last year, boosted by the launches of the new DS 7 Crossback and DS 3 Crossback.
“The future of a brand hinges on its credibility and success. If one looks at what DS did in 2019, obviously the future of DS is not an issue,” DS CEO Beatrice Foucher told Reuters.