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Peugeot 408 makes global debut in China

Dongfeng-Peugeot-Citroёn Automobile Co., Ltd. (DPCA), French automaker PSA’s joint venture with Dongfeng Motor Group, launched its latest high-end compact car, the Peugeot 408, in Beijing on January 25. It was PSA’s first world premiere of a new car generation in an overseas market.

Industry analysts said the premiere not only indicates the increasingly important role the Chinese market plays, but also signifies that the French automaker has made China its global strategic center.

With a wheelbase of 2,710 mm, the Peugeot 408 hit the market with seven variants, having displacements of 1.6L and 2.0L at a price range of ¥129,900-¥169,900 ($18,800-$24,600). It will compete head-on with Tianjin-FAW-Toyota’s new Corolla, FAW-Volkswage’s Sagita and Dongfeng-Honda’s Civic, etc. to grab a substantial share of the Chinese market.

The Peugeot 408 is DPCA’s fourth model introduced under the Peugeot brand, following the Peugeot 206, 307 and 207. Executives from the JV said they will launch two more Peugeot models in a higher end segment in 2011, in order to increase their market share.

Following its world premiere in China, the Peugeot 408 plans to gradually enter other countries and regions this year.

PSA sold a total of 272,000 cars in China in 2009, a jump of 52 percent year-on-year, according to a company statement. China has become the French automaker’s second largest market worldwide. Peugeot sales registered 112,000 units, up 44 percent, while sales of Citroёn vehicles rose 58 percent to 165,000 units.

DPCA launched its second assembly plant last November in Wuhan. The plant broke ground in 2006 and boasts a designed capacity of 150,000 units. Recent media reports said the joint venture is planning to build a third facility to prepare for higher future demand.

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