Automobiles Citroen may use Canada as its beachhead into North America. “If we can homologate our cars in Canada, it's a potential,” says Frederic Banzet, vice-president-international sales. “We're looking at it.”
Canada's rules on automotive homologation are not as strict as those in the U.S., and cars such as the Smart Fortwo and the GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. — built Chevrolet Epica and Optra are sold there but not in the U.S.
Canada absorbs about 1.6 million light vehicles a year, of which a little more than half are passenger cars, the sector Citroen is targeting. The French auto maker won't have a cross/utility vehicle to sell until next year.
Established brands that don't manufacture in Canada, such as VW and Nissan, sell about 30,000 units a year in the country.
The top-selling European car in Canada in 2005 was the Mexican-built Volkswagen Jetta, at 18,202 units. The top-selling import was the Mazda3, at 50,713 units.
Citroen has been expanding rapidly overseas. Last year, it sold 1,395,000 vehicles, including 244,000, or 17.5%, outside Europe. In the first half of this year, Citroen sales were down 2.2% in Europe but up 19.2% elsewhere.