Harnessing change: the PSA way

Brigitte Courtehoux, Executive Vice President and Head of PSA Group New Mobility and her representatives explain to Alex Kreetzer how the French automaker is moving forward into a new era of transportation.

Making the transition from a traditional automotive company into a mobility pioneer is a daunting task in this new age of transportation. Global automakers, who have been following the same trend for years, are now looking at emerging trends to identify where the market is going. In only a few years, ridesharing, e-hailing and even autonomous technology has changed the way consumers perceive transportation, moving from owning and operating their own vehicle to using apps for on-demand mobility. The PSA Group is paving the way for this change, recently announcing its its ‘Push to Pass’ strategy, which will help the automaker propel itself into the spotlight for mobility and capitalise on a rapidly evolving market.

“Modern society is experiencing profound change,” says Courtehoux and her representatives. “New consumer trends are emerging, along with new mobility needs. With more than 50 billion devices connected by 2020, the world is becoming increasingly digital and connected.” Since April 2016, the Push to Pass plan has expanded the PSA Group’s scope of action beyond its traditional activity of carmaker with the aim of becoming the preferred mobility provider of its customers. To address these challenges, the automaker is developing new services with new partners, including several start-ups. With this, the automaker can become more agile and make mobility easier through reachable, useful and immediate solutions. “Our ambition is to assist people in their mobility needs in all situations by offering them a wide range of connected services; for renting a bike, a scooter or a car, buying a new or used car as well as being able maintain it easily with the best solutions,” she continues. “Groupe PSA makes mobility easier by offering customised solutions, at any time and wherever you are.” A year after its launch in 2017, the Free2Move app now boasts 600,000 users worldwide and over 30 key partners, showing once again that PSA is one to watch.  

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19 June 2018 | Liverpool

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The world is changing, and so is the automotive industry. Due to this, automakers must adapt to the rapidly evolving market, harnessing mobility services alongside vehicle sales. To cater for this, PSA has remodeled itself through a range of different services in order to address the challenges we face in transportation today. “What matters is our customers’ needs; therefore, we sell cars and we offer mobility services,” says Courtehoux. “This new way of ‘automotive consumption’, such as carsharing and e-hailing implies more after sales and more kilometres. This is a new challenge for our industry. We are ready to address those challenges.” An example of this is PSA’s new services with startups Communauto, Travelcar and Koolicar, which will all help the automaker lead the market in mobility services.

According to PSA, one start-up is created per week worldwide in the automotive industry, which again highlights the importance of partnering with startups and experts in connected technologies, which are key to the future of mobility. Groupe PSA's Business Lab has made a significant contribution to this rapid deployment, being the main point of entry for startup companies which are able to test their solutions and decide whether or not the Group adopts new business ventures. “Together, we are more agile and we make your mobility easier thanks to reachable, useful, easy to use and immediate solutions.”

By collaborating with a range of companies, the PSA Group is creating a holistic solution for future mobility, harnessing benefits from all corners of the ever-expanding sector. The automaker is even active in the autonomous and ride hailing market, working alongside nuTonomy and Free2Move to transition towards new mobility services with less owners and more users. “Our dedicated mobility brand Free2Move makes new styles of mobility easier, anywhere, anytime. We are proud to have 600,000 users on the first anniversary of our mobility services app, in 10 countries with 30 providers.” This is just the beginning for PSA, as it continues to roll out new services in Europe and the United States, with the aim of becoming a major player in international mobility services.”

In terms of autonomous and connected vehicle technology, the automaker has developed the ‘Autonomous Vehicle for All’ programme to bring together a large range of features leading gradually to the partial, and later total, delegation of the driving to the car itself, when the driver wishes to do so. “Groupe PSA is committed to making the autonomous car safe and intuitive and to offer new driving experiences to its customers, by making everyday life simpler, offering them time for other activities, and by giving them the freedom to choose to drive or to delegate the driving, in complete confidence.” 

Supporting automotive and electric development

We are now at a stage where most global automakers have moved into the electric vehicle market, which will go hand-in-hand with mobility services previously mentioned. However, to achieve this, automakers like PSA have to be a part of the bigger picture, focusing not only on the products, but the ecosystem that will support it. This will also be the case with autonomous vehicles, with smart infrastructure playing a huge role through the development and rollout phases.

Courtehoux believes that a holistic approach is needed for these transitions to be effective. “For the autonomous car, the quality of the infrastructure affects the reliability of the information taken into account by the vehicles' automated features. Groupe PSA is participating in discussions to harmonise infrastructures in Europe for autonomous car deployment, such as working with the principal infrastructure managers in France.” The automaker also believes that distance communication networks, such as 4G, 5G and on-board Wi-Fi, should gradually cover the road network and allow greater connectivity. “These means of communication will be able to supply better information to the driver on the vehicle's environment and therefore increase safety.” By doing so, PSA can create accurate and advance information on such things as traffic jams, obstacles on the road and weather conditions. 

As for the deployment of electric cars, Groupe PSA claims that it is ready for the energy transition with the right offer at the right time, already setting a goal of offering its entire range with pure electric or hybrid variants by 2025. However, Courtehoux believes that it is important to have a ‘well to wheel approach’: “We must also consider the electromobility full ecosystem, from energy production and management, battery design and manufacturing, charging technology and infrastructure, and the recycling process.” Therefore, PSA has prioritised all European initiatives targeting the development of a sustainable and competitive electro-mobility ecosystem.”

Life in the car

From an automaker’s perspective, no matter what happens, it all comes down to the overall user experience within the car. PSA wants to achieve its own identity for loyal customers who have become attached to the brand’s standards and this must continue throughout the shift we are experiencing. Otherwise every car will be the same and that just isn’t how the market works for the consumer. “PSA has a dedicated entity focused on user experiences to imagine the new life on board for the future cars. The self-driving car redefines all the rules of the traditional car; it will offer a new kind of freedom. It gives us time, opening up new possibilities in order to enjoy new on-board experiences,” says Courtehoux. This allows the automaker to be more creative with its ideas, completely redesigning the cockpit to let users be confident and comfortable on their journey. PSA is already pushing the boundaries in its existing models, such as in the new Peugeot 3008, Citroën C3 and DS7 Crossback, giving consumers an idea of what’s to come further down the line.

Vehicles have no longer become just a transportation device but an extension of our day-to-day lives through connectivity and this will only increase as we move over to autonomous technology. Automakers like PSA have to keep ahead of these trends if they want to succeed, and Courtehoux and her team are already looking forward to how self-driving cars will impact passengers and the world around them. “From 2020, the autonomous car will offer the driver the freedom to use their time differently and release them from the constraints of driving.” This is extremely important, especially when drivers are in boring situations, such as being stuck in traffic, trying to park and other daily issues they come across.

By taking the driver away from the steering wheel, autonomous technology will also play a significant role in reducing the number of accidents and will guarantee even more safety on our roads. Over time, the autonomous car will improve traffic flow in cities by communicating with other vehicles and infrastructure, helping to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, allowing mobility for everyone everywhere and reducing the pressure on parking spaces in urban areas. Overall, PSA is making sure that they are prepared for all aspects of future mobility, to keep their customers happy and make roads safer. “With several initiatives in carsharing, the autonomous car and the new generation of electric cars, Groupe PSA is providing new mobility solutions in accordance with these transitions,” Courtehoux concludes. 

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