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New Citroen C4 Targets Business Buyers With Low Emissions, Premium Technologies

Executive Summary

With considerable work on diesel engines, transmissions and a new stop/start system, the French auto maker promises the least-powerful model will produce 99 g/km of CO2.

PARIS – Automobiles Citroen is combining its eco-friendly and up-market technologies in a new version of the Citroen C4 coming this fall that is aimed at business buyers.

With considerable work on diesel engines, transmissions and a new stop/start system, the French auto maker promises the least-powerful C4 model will produce just 99 g/km of carbon dioxide. Additionally, 15% of the car’s material is recycled.

Yet, the new C4 will be larger than the model it replaces, weighing 55-165 lbs. (25-75 kg) more. While some of the weight comes from size, new features also contribute to its heft, such as a back massager for the driver and a 230-volt outlet in the center console to plug in a hair dryer or electric shaver.

Citroen spent about E400 million ($479 million) to develop the new vehicle and prepare the factory at Mulhouse, in eastern France. Pre-production begins in June. The car will go on sale following its debut at the Paris auto show in September. The labor union at Mulhouse expects the plant to go to a 3-shift operation in October.

The current C4 is among several models that have helped raise Citroen’s market share in France and Europe, selling more than 1 million units since it was introduced at the Paris show in 2004. Competitors include the Renault Megane and Volkswagen Golf in Europe’s C-segment of popular midsize cars.

Mulhouse Plant Manager Jean Mouro tells the local media the auto maker’s ambition for the new C4 is to “do better in terms of market share, not necessarily in terms of volume.” The C-segment has been losing share to the A- and B-segments in Europe, an effect of both the economic crisis and long-term changes in consumer habits.

Business fleets, therefore, are a significant sales target. The auto maker says “the new Citroen C4 was clearly conceived so that its passengers profit completely from their drive time and optimize their daily activity – a voyage in business class with a simple objective: total serenity.”

Private buyers and businesses in some European countries still can benefit from government incentives for buying vehicles that consume less fuel, even though the popular scrappage programs have ended.

At launch, Citroen will offer a 112-hp C4 making 109 g/km, which in France will qualify for a €700 ($838) bonus. The 92-hp, 99 g/km version promised for the future will qualify for €1,000 ($1,197).

The new C4 will feature such new technologies as blindspot detection; programmable cruise control, with a choice of several desired speeds; and changeable warning-alert sounds and instrument-panel colors.

Citroen will add its basic e-Touch telematics service that offers emergency calls if the airbags deploy, a service-call button, maintenance and diagnosis programs and a way for vehicle owners to check on the Internet to see if their driving habits are ecologically correct.

The auto maker says Michelin Energy Saver tires offered on the C4, alone, will save 5 g/km of CO2.

The 92-hp and 112-hp diesel engines will be available with a new generation of micro-hybrid stop/start functionality, but a 2.0L 150-hp mill will not have stop/start. All versions will use a diesel particulate filter.

The micro-hybrid versions come with a robotized manual transmission that facilitates the engine control unit’s ability to control emissions. Standard manual transmissions are available for engines without stop/start.

Citroen also will offer a choice of 95-hp 1.4L, 120-hp 1.6L and 150-hp 1.6L gasoline engines. The best CO2 performance will come from the smallest gas engine, which produces 140 g/km but will not qualify for a bonus in France.

The worst CO2 performance is 162 g/km from the 120-hp gasoline-powered model fitted with 17- or 18-in. wheels, which will be subject to a €200 ($239) penalty. A liquefied-petroleum-gas version under development likely will qualify for a bonus.

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