A year after its relaunch in Thailand, Peugeot is pushing to increase its market share and build on growth that’s bounced back after being interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ambitious plans by the brand’s new importer, MGC-Asia Group, haven’t been set back by the deteriorating economic situation and short-term expansion is still the target.
MGC-Asia has a portfolio of niche luxury brands, but its previous big-volume winners were BMW dealerships, leaving Peugeot to try to fill the remaining gap.
“We started from BMW, it was our premium brand,” explains Jatupon Puttaviboon, general manager-sales and marketing for Peugeot Thailand. “Then we go to other high-end premium brands – Maserati, Aston Martin and Rolls-Royce – and (we) go into (the) motorcycle industry (with) BMW Motorrad (and) Harley-Davidson.”
They already have a platform to build on with Peugeot. “MGC has very good experience from BMW, in terms of (selling) a mass premium brand,” he says. “MGC (accounted for) the biggest group volume in BMW Thailand, (so we have) a lot of experience we can share, we can use from the group. Our CEO is from the previous BMW management.”
Why choose Peugeot? “Peugeot is a good brand. The history of Peugeot in Thailand is more than 30 years. The previous importer (had) more than 20 dealerships,” says Puttaviboon (pictured below).
“There are many people (here) that love Peugeot. Also, French brands are popular in Thailand – it’s fashion, art, (so) it’s an opportunity in the market.”
The brand was relaunched in August 2019, Puttaviboon says. One of the dealerships is in
one of Bangkok’s cluster of high-end malls where MGC already has boutique showrooms for Aston Martin, Maserati and Rolls-Royce. That location puts the Peugeot brand in front of affluent fashion-conscious consumers.
Meanwhile, the dealership rollout continues. “We are thinking about, not including Bangkok, about 10 dealerships. We focus on the big cities,” says Puttaviboon.
He says 2020 sales have exceeded expectations, and the dent caused by the COVID-19 lockdown earlier this year has leveled out.
“Last year we (sold) around 120 units from August to December and then this year another 150 from January to (June),” he says. “We expected a little bit more, but due to COVID our volume dropped about 60% from the first two months.
“The good thing is after COVID in April and May (is that) in June our volume comes up 130%, (so) we have seen a good sign of it coming back to normal,” Puttaviboon adds.
Peugeot’s current range comprises the 3008, starting at 1.56 million baht ($49,800) and the 5008, from 1.76 million baht ($56,200). The subcompact 2008 is due in Thailand shortly and will slot below the 3008, increasing the scope of the range and brand accessibility thanks to its lower entry price point.
All Peugeot models come from Malaysia as completely built-up units. The recent whittling away of inter-ASEAN taxes allows MGC to offer competitive pricing. With the logistical ease of being able to import CBU models from the country next door, Puttaviboon says, Peugeot has no plans for local assembly.
Crossover and SUV-type vehicles are Thailand’s fastest-growing market segment, and Peugeot has put all its eggs in this basket. Bangkok consumers respond to individuality and uniqueness, so the distinctive designs of these models mean the door is wide open to establish a strong presence. A sizable marketing spend accompanies efforts to re-establish the brand.
Since the departure of the previous importer, Peugeot’s return to Thailand has been the preserve of grey importers, that is, people who bypass official distribution channels to import cars.
That means plenty of sports cars including the Peugeot RCZ. However, MGC doesn’t see niche sports models as a way to broaden its range. “We’re thinking about a city car or smaller car or van or pickup,” Puttaviboon says.