Other than Bugatti hypercars, United States drivers haven’t been able to buy French cars in over two decades, but that will soon change. Peugeot will return to North America sometime in the next few years, parent company Groupe PSA announced on the heels of strong 2018 financial results. But can Peugeot bring something new and different to the table after all these years away?
Peugeot last sold cars in the U.S. in 1991, pulling up stakes after that due to low sales. The automaker was primarily known for selling quirky, quintessentially French cars. But over the years, it has evolved into a more mainstream brand with a fairly conventional lineup of sedans, hatchbacks, and crossovers ranging from the tiny 108 city car to the 5008 crossover. Peugeot will likely compete against mainstream brands such as Honda and Toyota in the U.S.
The automaker also has a strong performance background, including many World Rally Championship victories, three 24 Hours of Le Mans wins, and a Pikes Peak International Hill Climb record that only fell last year. However, aside from the 308 GTi hot hatchback, most of Peugeot’s current lineup doesn’t exactly scream fun to drive.
Parent company Groupe PSA claims to be focusing on electric cars and autonomous driving, but so far its efforts haven’t matched those of some other automakers. Peugeot’s only current electric car is the iOn, a rebadged Mitsubishi i-MiEV with a short range, small size, and dated design. Peugeot will unveil an all-electric version of its 208 hatchback (pictured above) at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. That car should be more competitive, but Peugeot will still be playing catchup to mainstream electric cars like the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Nissan Leaf.
A U.S. return for Peugeot (or sibling brand Citro?n) has been hinted at since at least 2016. But Groupe PSA still won’t give a specific timeline for the return of Peugeot to the U.S. The company announced plans for a U.S. headquarters in Atlanta in 2018, and launched a carsharing service called Free2Move in Washington, D.C. Free2Move currently uses cars from other automakers, and also incorporates bikesharing.
Groupe PSA did not discuss plans to bring any other brands to the U.S., only saying that it will expand Citro?n into India and Opel into Russia. Opel is the German brand PSA bought from General Motors in 2017. The current Buick Regal and soon-to-be-discontinued Buick Cascada are both rebadged Opels.