PSA Peugeot-Citroën Considering a Return to the US. Again. For Serious This Time.

These rumors happen every five years, but they’re still fun to entertain.

Peugeot Citroen America
Peugeot-Citroën

It’s that time of the decade again, when tattle and conjecture spread about PSA Peugeot-Citroën returning to the US market. This has happened about every five years (check out these stories from 20142008, and 2003!) ever since Peugeot sold its last 405 sedan here in 1991, with bupkis to show for it. Citroën officially skedaddled long before that, in 1974, but its New Jersey gray-market importer tried to make a go of selling the discontinued XMfrom 1992 to 1994. Priced between $55,000 and $60,000 during the period when a Porsche 911 cost $64,000, they struggled to sell 20 of them before giving up. That was the end of the French adventure, following Renault and Merkur, and just ahead of Alfa Romeo’s exit-stage-left in 1995.

The French carmaker kept an office in Detroit open until 2013, continually eying the market for another way in even as it struggled through enormous financial troubles. After a cash injection from both the French government and the Chinese and installing a new CEO in 2013, Peugeot has completed its “Back in the Race” recovery plan—and is looking to expand. It has three brands now, the two namesake lines plus the luxury division of Citroën, called DS. All three are laid out to operate globally; in 2014 a DS exec said they had mapped out “a strategy to be in the top 200 cities in the world.” If they follow through on that plan, the US market is inevitable.

DS has already been established in big-money retail outlets in China and South America, it would likely be the tip of the spear in the US, where its luxed-up subcompacts could take aim at the Mini Cooper and Fiat 500. The hurdles, though, are huge: there's zero brand recognition, no dealer network, no local manufacturing. That’s why the latest reports of a potential US foray are still qualified with “maybe,” and any timeline makes the year 2020 sound optimistic. But if it does happen we’ll be right there at the port waiting to test drive a 208 GTI and a DS3 Performance Cabrio. And a Renault Alpine, too, if Peugeot decides to bring its French friends back with it.