FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – PSA Group unveiled one of its major new models on Tuesday with 20 people physically present and 2,600 online viewers – a marketing configuration likely to accelerate the corona virus across the industry now that the Geneva auto show was canceled next year.
The company’s Citroen brand showed the new version of its C4 compact hatchback, a vehicle that will be essential to the company’s sales as it faces a highly competitive European car market amid severe headwinds from the corona virus.
Citroen Vincent Cobee brand head said the new hatchback is “at the heart of the European market, the family car.”
“We are talking about the largest segment of the European market,” Cobee told The Associated Press. He said that the vehicle’s hybrid attitude, which combines SUV elements, means that the C4 is “an interesting offering in this huge segment” and “quite important in terms of brand direction and ambition.”
Electricity has so far had higher purchase prices that outweigh lower operating costs. but Cobee said that was changing. Although prices will not be announced until later, he said that “the cost of ownership of this battery car will be fully comparable to the cost of the internal combustion engine” once all factors have been considered. “If your approach is now a cost of ownership, the gap is almost closed,” he said.
Cobee called the presentation format ‘phygital’, a combination of physical presence by the presenters and a larger online audience.
The new C4 shakes the design of its predecessor upside down by adding elements more familiar to SUVs, such as a higher seating position, more ground clearance and prominent wheel arches. In addition to diesel and petrol versions, it comes in an electric-only variant with a 50-kilowatt-hour battery that provides a range of up to 350 kilometers (217 miles) and can be charged up to 80% in 30 minutes – if the fast-charging station is available .
In addition to the virus outbreak, the auto industry is facing headwinds from the European Union’s regulatory requirements to reduce average emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas blamed on climate change by scientists. Car manufacturers want to reach the new limits with a combination of battery vehicles, hybrid cars that use both electric and internal combustion engines, and more efficient gasoline and diesel models.
Sales prospects for all automakers are uncertain as demand recovers from lockdowns closing dealerships and troubled consumers. Citroën sales declined 86.4% in April in the period of the strictest activity restrictions, to 9,500 vehicles from 69,900 in the same month last year.
Car manufacturers had moved more marketing events online before the virus outbreak to save the cost of participating in auto shows and to focus exclusively on their product.
Geneva auto show organizers said exhibitors told them they would rather wait until 2022 to resume the show. This year’s edition was canceled in March due to the outbreak.
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