French built Peugeot 207 makes it to Thailand

Peugeot 207 small

Peugeot is attempting to latch onto a perceived trend for compact cars in Thailand with the launch of the Peugeot 207, being imported in CBU form.

According to the Thai newspaper Yuadyarn (Automobile), Peugeot is targeting the 207 at those who want to change from big executive cars, to compact ones that suite the city lifestyle.

Peugeot must maintain this effort of pitching its cars at the executive and luxury markets, not because they are particularly luxurious or have natural executive appeal, but because they are simply too expensive in Thailand to appeal to normal folks, in the way that they do in Europe.

Peugeot's efforts to convince the Thai market that its autos are having some limited success, with annual sales of around 180 units. Pasupong Leenoottapong, the Managing Director of European Automobiles Co., Ltd, the official dealer for Peugeot in Thailand, suggests that these figures are down by 30% on previous years, due to the slow-down in the economy and the increase in oil prices. Could it also be that the emperor has no clothes and the market is starting to see that there is no real value to Peugeot's offerings in Thailand?

Take the new 207, with prices ranging from THB 1.35 million to in excess of THB 1.55 million for a compact hatchback, what does Peugeot have to offer considering that the prices are double that of it's natural segment rivals such as the Nissan Tiida? In fact, the prices are comparable to much larger cars, such as Toyota Camry, Nissan Teana, and Honda Civic.

The selling points are "suitability for city lifestyle", "accessories for comfort and safety" and "European standard of performance".

Let's start with the performance. The 115 hp from its 1.6 liter turbo charged direct-injection engine is hardly fantastic, but it was developed by PSA, Peugeot, Citron and BMW! Can't get much more European than that I suppose, but the more interesting engine is the 1.6 liter 110 hp HDi engine, especially given the lack of other diesel options in this segment.

As for suitability for city lifestyle, and comfort and safety levels, I believe that there are many options well below this price range that would meet these criteria, and even manage to throw in some style. But it matters not, because an executive wants something different apparently, and this will be true of the 207 given the very low volume of sales it will chalk up. Who cares that the reason for the lack of popularity is due to the lack of value?

Regardless, Peugeot are confident of sales reaching over 300 units in 2007, in part due to the launch of the 207. Customers can place orders now, with delivery starting in March 2007. I can think of many better ways to part with THB 1.35 million, but each to his/her own.