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Peugeot 308 voted car of the year, CEO predicts slight European growth

Peugeot 308 voted car of the year, CEO predicts slight European growth
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At last some good news for struggling French car company PSA Peugeot Citroen.

The makers say its sleek, elegant with every last detail designed to make your senses come alive. Now Peugeot can add the ‘Car of the Year’ title to its new 308.

European automative editors voted it the number one ahead of the opening of the Geneva International Motor Show. The manufacturer is hoping the model will take them back to the top of the compact hatchback list.

It beat six other finalists including a pair of electric sports cars and a premium Mercedes S class. The 308 is more compact than its predecessor with a larger boot and redesigned cockpit.

At the same time PSA Peugeot Citroen is forecasting some growth for the European car market in 2014.

Chief executive Carlos Tavares is, however, less sure of the wider market: “There is a lot of uncertainty on global markets, difficulties in Russia and instability in Latin America.”

Speaking in Geneva he said: “In Europe, we expect slight growth, and for now things are going more or less in this direction.”

Tavares also told reporters he may seek more cost savings and does not rule out capacity cuts in France after 2016 if they are needed.

The Paris-based carmaker, which is raising three billion euros in a rescue deal with Chinese partner Dongfeng and the French state, has promised not to close any French plants for two years under a pact with its workforce.

“We are going to respect very rigorously the agreement we have with our unions, which means no factory will be closed until 2016 at least. That’s the deal,” Tavares said in a press panel interview organised by French trade publication 7pm Auto.

Whether plant cuts are needed after that date “will depend on the results of the company,” Tavares added.

Peugeot is making good progress towards the existing savings goal announced in 2012 and could go further, Tavares also indicated.

“I am not the kind of guy to stop at the objective just because he has reached the objective,” he said.

The French state’s arrival as a major shareholder will not prevent further restructuring further if necessary, Tavares stressed, adding that the government’s 15 percent Renault holding had not prevented that carmaker from adjusting capacity.

“It’s part of my job to explain to our shareholders where are the levers for sustainable profitable growth,” he said.

“Everything we have seen so far from the presence of the French state on our competitor’s board seems to indicate concretely that things can be done.”

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