Patrice Ramage, LCV global product and marketing director
You've just unveiled the Bipper sub-compact van. When will it appear in dealerships and how many do you expect to sell a year?
It will go on sale in Italy in December and in the rest of Europe from next spring onwards and we expect to sell 30,000 in 2008. Our target is to sell 50,000 annually and we should achieve that in 2009.
Are you concerned that Bipper will steal sales from Partner, its bigger brother?
Some customers who do not need Partner's load area capacity will certainly opt for Bipper, but we reckon that Bipper will give us the opportunity to win a lot of conquest business from other manufacturers; from Renault and its Kangoo, for example (Renault has just announced a Bipper rival in the shape of the new Kangoo Van Compact). We believe that this will outweigh any risk that Partner sales will be affected. Bipper should also appeal to people who run old Citroën C15s and are looking for something new. It's also worth noting that its CO2 emissions are as low as 119g/km and that's good news for the environment.
Bipper will be available with an automated manual gearbox. How many buyers do you think will specify it?
Sales of this type of 'box always seem to be a little disappointing and I expect it to be fitted to no more than around 10 per cent of all Bippers sold.
Why do such gearboxes remain comparatively unpopular?
Partly it's due to price and partly to a feeling among drivers in some markets that they want to move a gearstick.
In the light of what you've just said do you have any plans to offer an automated manual gearbox as an option on Boxer? You could do so quite easily if you wanted to.
We've not made a decision yet. We think motor homes would account for the majority of sales, but although Peugeot does well in that market in the UK, we're not that successful in it elsewhere in Europe.
How are Partner sales going?
Remarkably well. Every year we exceed the volumes we achieved the year before and we should reach 157,000 worldwide this year. That will be a record.
When will the new Partner debut?
In 1994 we launched Boxer, in 1995 the Expert and in 1996 the Partner. We introduced the latest Boxer in 2006 and the latest Expert this year along with Bipper, so you can draw your own conclusions about when the latest Partner will appear! We are completely revamping our range so we might well be seeing it in the coming months.
How well has the new Expert been received?
It's been a big success — we should sell 40,000 this year and close to 50,000 in 2008 — and we're looking to increase production. The percentage of sales taken by the high roof van is a bit less than we expected, although that's because we don't as yet have it available in sufficient volume. We thought it would take 12 per cent, but so far it's taking between nine and 10 per cent.
Which engine derivative — they're all diesels — is proving to be the most popular?
The 120hp 2.0-litre. It's taking about 45 per cent of sales. The 90hp 1.6-litre takes 40 per cent while the 136hp 2.0-litre accounts for the balance.
How successful is the latest Boxer? And how are you coping with selling the 4.0-tonner? It's the first time Peugeot has ventured above 3.5 tonnes and takes you into a challenging area involving tachographs and Operator's Licences.
We'll sell around 53,000 Boxers this year. As for the 4.0-tonner, to be frank we didn't quite anticipate some of the complexities that have to be taken into account. It's something we'll have to deal with next year.