RAY MASSEY: Peugeot UK managing director Julie David on mission to transform showroom and online experience of customers
Julie David is on a mission — and some of it undercover. The managing director of Peugeot UK aims to transform the showroom and online experience of customers when choosing, buying or leasing its cars.
Upwardly mobile and edging towards premium class, Peugeot’s pitting itself against rivals such as Germany’s Volkswagen and Korea’s Hyundai. But its crop of stylish models on offer and coming down the line is better than how the public perceives the brand image and experience. And that has to change, she says.
When Julie took over 18 months ago, she undertook secret ‘mystery shopper’ trips to showrooms with her sons. She noted: ‘One little thing — someone not talking to you, or ignoring you, and that’s it. You’ll never go there again.’
Harbinger: Peugeot’s Julie David and the recently launched upmarket 408
Her best experience was from the youngest and least experienced dealer, she said.
So impressed, in fact, that she went back later to reveal her identity and congratulate him.
Her worst was in the showroom of a global performance car company.
‘I was totally ignored. I still get a bad vibe when I see their cars,’ she said.
That hands-on feedback is driving a big showroom revamp, the way cars are sold and how customers are treated, with more standardised pricing and less haggling.
She has a friend at Peugeot’s French HQ — the global CEO is Coventry-born Linda Jackson. She, too, undertook secret mystery shopper missions and encountered — and exposed — sexism in the showroom when she was ignored in favour of her late husband.
Peugeot’s new look is epitomised in the recently unveiled 408, a feline fastback set to go on sale next year with hybrid and petrol power. It features sophisticated styling, a bold grille and a new-look lion’s head badge.
The new range of Peugeot cars are ‘real head-turners’ she believes – and I agree – and indeed they continue to pick up a raft of awards for their combination of stylishly chic but bold looks, both inside and out, driving prowess and keen though not cheap pricing.
The current watchword in Peugeot is to create enticing cars with ‘allure’ and bold elegance.
Similarly, the showroom experience of customers is as much to do with the ‘tone’ of the conversation, she says.
This will become increasingly important as the move towards electric cars – and the ending of sales of petrol and diesel cars from 2030 – gathers pace, with many vehicles already ‘electrified’ with hybrid powertrains.
The new range of Peugeot cars are ‘real head-turners’
A combination of stylishly chic but bold looks, both inside and out, driving prowess and keen though not cheap pricing
The current watchword in Peugeot is to create enticing cars with ‘allure’ and bold elegance
Upwardly mobile and edging towards premium class, Peugeot’s pitting itself against rivals such as Germany’s Volkswagen and Korea’s Hyundai
Peugeot’s crop of stylish models on offer and coming down the line is better than how the public perceives the brand image and experience
She said: ‘2030 is not very far off. We feel we have a duty of care to have that conversation with customers. Even if not all the vehicles we sell are fully electrified.’
To get a sense of where she wants her company to be in future, I pressed her: if Peugeot were a supermarket or store, what would it be?
Aldi, Morrison’s, Sainsbury, Tesco, Waitrose, Harvey Nichols or Fortnum & Mason?
She said is most impressed by John Lewis – both for the customer experience and for consistency: ‘We all know John Lewis. It’s not always the most exciting. But it is consistent. It would be my ‘go to.
‘They show great respect for the customer and there’s nothing left to chance.’
So get ready for chic new ‘Salon Peugeot’ showrooms – and cars that are never knowingly undersold.
Will it fit in my garage? New Peugeot 408
Style: ‘feline’ Fastback
On sale: early 2023
Price: tbc but estimated from around £28,000
Built: Mulhouse,France (And later Chengdu China for that market)
Width: 1.859m (mirrors folded)
Power: Petrol electric hybrid and petrol
HYBRID 225: Combines 180 hp (132 kW) PureTech engine and 81 kW electric motor.
HYBRID 180: combines 150 hp PureTech engine (110kW) and 81 kW electric motor
Battery: capacity of 12.4kWh and an output of 102kW.
Petrol engine: 130hp 1.2-litre PureTech three-cylinder petrol engine.
Gears: eight-speed e-EAT8 automatic gearbox.
Wheels: 17 inches to 20 inches
Second row seats knee-room: 188mm
Boot: 536 litres (1,611 litres with rear seats folded down)
Colours at launch: six including new Obsession Blue and Titanium Grey
Hybrid charging times
From 7.4kW Wall Box using optional 7.4kW on-board charger: 1 hour 55 minutes
From 7.4kW Wall Box with standard 3.7kW on-board charger: 3 hours 50 minutes
Domestic 3-pin socket with the standard 3.7kW on-board charger: 7.5 hours