Vive la France: Peugeot shifts its American comeback plans into high gear

peugeot return to united states e 208

Other than Bugatti hypercars, the Smart Fortwo, and the Toyota Yaris, American drivers haven’t been able to buy a French car in over two decades, but that will soon change. Peugeot will return to North America sometime in the early 2020s, parent company Groupe PSA announced. But can the company — which positions itself as a Gallic alternative to Volkswagen — bring something new and different to the table after all these years away?

Peugeot last sold cars in the United States in 1991, pulling up stakes after that due to low sales. The automaker was primarily known for selling quirky, quintessentially French cars. But over the years, it has evolved into a more mainstream brand with a fairly conventional lineup of sedans, hatchbacks, and crossovers ranging from the tiny 108 city car to the 5008 crossover. Peugeot will likely compete against mainstream brands such as Honda and Toyota in America.

The automaker also has a strong performance background, including many World Rally Championship victories, three 24 Hours of Le Mans wins, and a Pikes Peak International Hill Climb record that only fell last year. However, aside from the 308 GTi hot hatchback, most of Peugeot’s current lineup doesn’t exactly scream “fun to drive.”

Parent company Groupe PSA claims to be focusing on electric cars and autonomous driving, but so far its efforts haven’t matched those of some other automakers. Peugeot’s only current electric car is the iOn, a rebadged Mitsubishi i-MiEV with a short range, small size, and dated design. Peugeot unveiled an all-electric version of its second-generation 208 hatchback at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. That car should be more competitive, but Peugeot will still be playing catch-up to mainstream electric cars like the Chevrolet Bolt and Nissan Leaf.

An American comeback for Peugeot (or sibling brand Citroën) has been hinted at since at least 2016. The company announced plans for a U.S. headquarters in Atlanta in 2018, and launched a car-sharing service called Free2Move in Washington, D.C. Free2Move currently uses cars from other automakers, and also incorporates bike-sharing.

Peugeot originally planned to return to America by 2026, but company boss Carlos Tavares announced his team could achieve its goal much faster. It could begin sending its cars across the Atlantic in 2023, he told the Wall Street Journal. It’s too early to tell precisely which nameplates Peugeot will sell here, but Tavares told the publication that the firm plans on offering a full line of vehicles to be as visible as possible. There’s no sense in putting together a comeback plan to sell one or two models, he argued. Electrification and connectivity will both play key roles in Peugeot’s offensive.

Groupe PSA did not discuss plans to bring any other brands to the U.S., only saying it will expand Citroën into India and Opel into Russia. Opel is the German brand PSA bought from General Motors in 2017. The current Buick Regal and soon-to-be-discontinued Buick Cascada are both rebadged Opels.

Updated on April 3, 2019: Added details about Peugeot’s comeback plans.

Cars

General Motors and Volkswagen are ignoring hybrids to go full electric

GM and VW are done spending money on hybrids, according to a new report. The two massive automakers will direct funds to electric cars instead. Both companies are confident that all-electric power is the future.
Cars

The most reliable cars of 2019

We all dread the thought of our car turning into a money pit, but choosing a dependable vehicle from the start can help us rack up countless care-free miles. Here, we've rounded up some of the most reliable cars available.
Cars

Infiniti’s Formula One-inspired Project Black S may enter production

The Infiniti Project Black S is a Q60 luxury coupe enhanced with a Formula One-inspired hybrid powertrain. The 563-horsepower car can sprint from zero to 62 mph in under four seconds, according to Infiniti.
Cars

The best family cars for 2019

The perfect family car should exude value, without sacrificing practicality. Thankfully, there are a host of family cars that do just that, including a three-row SUV and one of the best stations wagons ever built.
Cars

Toyota raises the curtain on 2020 Corolla Nightshade Editions

The 2020 Toyota Corolla SE sedan and hatchback with a CVT (continuously variable transmission) will be available in Nightshade Editions, joining the Toyota 4Runner, Camry, Highlander, and Sienna with the blacked-out trim style option.
Cars

Here’s why your Uber or Lyft car always seems to be a Toyota Camry

The Toyota Camry is one of the most popular cars sold in the United States, and not just with retail buyers. Uber and Lyft drivers love the Camry for its reliability, according to a new report.
Cars

The electric Volkswagen ID Buggy makes even Ferrari drivers stop and stare

Volkswagen traveled to the 2019 Geneva Auto Show to introduce an electric dune buggy named ID Buggy, and Digital Trends drove it in California. It's a modern-day tribute to the 1960s Meyers Manx.
Cars

Infiniti will take on BMW and Mercedes-Benz with its own crossover coupe

Launching in 2020, the Infiniti QX55 will be a crossover coupe similar to models that have proven successful for BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Infiniti said the QX55 will have styling influenced by its early 2000s FX.
Cars

Limited-edition Subaru BRZ tS returns for 2020, WRX and STI get minor tweaks

Subaru performance cars remain mostly unchanged for the 2020 model year. The big news is the return of the limited-edition Subaru BRZ tS sports car, with production capped at 300 units.
Cars

The Bugatti Centodieci is only possible because of the latest design tech

Bugatti is celebrating its 110th birthday by releasing a limited-edition hypercar named Centodieci. It's based on the Chiron, but its engine makes 1,600 horsepower, and it's a tribute to the EB110 released during the 1990s.
Cars

Discover the engineering Easter eggs in the new 2020 Ford Explorer

The 2020 Ford Explorer received a ground-up overhaul, with major changes that include a new hybrid powertrain option. But even the engineering details of the new Explorer are worth checking out.
Cars

Type S concept marks the return of sportier Acura models

Not seen since 2008, the Acura Type S once signified the sportiest Acura models sold in North America. Acura will revive Type S with a concept car debuting at Monterey Car Week, followed by two new production models.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Racing drones and robotic ping pong trainers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Cars

Beach to Baja: Dune buggies in the news, from VW ID concept to McQueen’s Manx

It was a big week for dune buggies. VW revealed an electric concept vehicle, the ID. BUGGY. Steve McQueen's Thomas Crown Affair buggy is headed to auction. Glickenhaus revealed the Baja Boot, a street-legal Baja-racing-capable dune buggy.