It’s been a big, busy day for French automaker Peugeot. The French automaker’s 3008 SUV was named European Car of the Year on Monday, the same day parent PSA announced it had agreed to buy General Motors’ long-struggling Opel brand.
Both developments could mean significant good fortune for PSA, which is also the parent of the Citroen brand. Until only a few years ago a financial basket case facing the very real possibility of collapse, it now becomes Europe’s second-largest automaker. And winning the European Car of the Year, or ECOTY, trophy could help it build even more momentum.
The award was presented during a ceremony marking the start of the annual Geneva Motor Show. The panel of judges – all automotive journalists from across the country – gave the Peugeot 3008 a commanding lead of second-place finisher, the new Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan.
“Peugeot’s bright answer to the fast-growing demand of compact SUVs and crossovers in European market has been completely redefined to overtake its peers in functionality and appeal,” said a statement on the ECOTY webside.
The Peugeot ute gather 315 points overall, with 21 of the jurors declaring it their favorite vehicle. The Giulia scored 296 points.
The all-new Mercedes-Benz E-Class came in as a distant third, with 196 points.
(PSA purchasing Opel for $2.5 billion. Click Here for the story.)
The European COTY has been presented for more than half a century and is considered one of the most prestigious awards in the automotive world, alongside the newer North American Car of the Year (which was won by the new Chevrolet Bolt EV in January).
The win for Peugeot marks the French brand’s fifth crown. And it comes at a time when the maker has been gaining renewed credibility for its new product offensive. As recently as 2014, there were serious questions being asked about the parent company’s viability, but PSA will now become the second-largest automaker in Europe after the acquisition of GM’s Opel/Vauxhall subsidiary. The French company will nonetheless face new challenges, Opel having not turned a profit since 1999.
Going forward, the German-based marque is expecting to replace its GM-derived product portfolio with models sharing platforms with other Peugeot and Citroen products.
(Click Here to see the long-awaited Alfa Romeo Giulia’s debut.)
That will include future SUVs. And that underscores a significant shift in not just the European market but one reshaping the auto industry worldwide. In the U.S., for example, utes, pickups and vans last month accounted for nearly two-thirds of new vehicle sales.
After a slow start, utility vehicles are now gaining momentum in Europe, as well, with a number of new models set to make their debut at the Geneva Motor Show this week.
The Peugeot 3008 goes up against some tough competitors, such as the Nissan Qashqai, a small ute that will soon go on sale in the U.S. as the Rogue Sport.
(Mercedes adding 603-hp Wagon to new E-Class line-up. Click Here for the story.)
Unfortunately for American buyers who might be interested, the new Peugeot 3008 is not being sold in North America. Parent PSA pulled out of that market a quarter century ago due to sluggish sales.