New Peugeot Citroen boss Carlos Tavares’ table was glass-topped and rectangular, while the man behind it swiftly revealed himself to be very good news indeed for the officially beleaguered French combine.
Having fallen out in grand style with his former employer, Renault-Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn, Tavares has jumped ship, and despite having barely got his feet under the table (not sure what shape that one is), displayed the sort of honest, intuitive grasp of PSA’s portfolio and issues that suggests a turnaround is surely imminent.
‘Peugeot offers the perfect convergence between the rigour and seriousness you associate with Germans cars and a Latin emotion,’ he told us. ‘Citroen is about comfort, useful innovation, and has the potential to surprise you on the conceptual side. Cynical people might say the Cactus (above) is simplistic. I say it is simple.’
The French government and Chinese partner Dong Feng have both had to bail PSA out, but Tavares is adamant the company hasn’t hawked the family silver to save its arse. French and Chinese engineers can work together well, he insists, and smarter supplier partnerships and sourcing will help save money.
He praises Peugeot’s people, but wants a sharper profit culture.
Tavares is also a highly competent weekend racer, rates Peugeot Sport’s efforts highly, and thinks Pikes Peak and the WTCC are more cost effective ways of boosting the brands than, say, Le Mans. So there’ll be nothing there in the medium term, never mind a return to F1. Boo.