April 12, 2017 7:00 a.m. ET
PHOTO:KIM KYUNG-HOON/ZUMA PRESS
Peugeot , PUGOY -0.67% on the heels of acquiring General Motors Co.’s GM -1.01% Opel unit in Europe, plans to take on the Detroit auto giant in its own backyard. The catch is it could take a decade to get there.
The French car company is the latest regional player in the auto industry to announce plans to sell in the U.S., joining India’sMahindra Group , EQM&M -0.46% China’s GAC Motor and a flood of electric-car startups with similar ambitions. It has been decades since Peugeots were on sale in American showrooms, and its re-emergence would come as the market is already clogged with offerings.
Discounts are near an average of $4,000 per car sold in the U.S., according to J.D. Power, and auto makers are engaged in a price war not seen since the financial crisis. Niche brands from Europe, such as Fiat , Jaguar and Maserati, shell out much richer incentives, according to Autodata Corp.
Peugeot understands it is a “dog eat dog environment,” but isn’t banking on being able to appeal to today’s buyer, the company’s U.S. Chief Larry Dominique said in an interview.
Mr. Dominique, a Chrysler and Nissan Motor Co. veteran, said Peugeot will wade into the market first via a car-sharing rental service in Los Angeles and San Francisco to study what he expects to be a relatively rapid shift in consumer tastes.
Peugeot is teaming with startup Travelcar to offer a service that lets customers flying into those cities rent other brands’ cars from travelers who parked at the airport. Peugeot plans to eventually offer a car-sharing service with its own vehicles in the U.S., getting feedback from customers before selling cars in the country.
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