DS puts E-Tense models at heart of 2021 strategy
19 March 2021
Author: Sean Keywood
The premium brand says electrified powertrains are helping it to target drivers that match its aspirations.
DS is well placed to capitalise on growing demand for electrified vehicles in 2021 with an expanding model line-up.
That's according to Jules Tilstone, who was appointed as the brand's new UK managing director in December.
Tilstone, who was previously DS's European commercial director, has unveiled a six-point plan for the brand in 2021.
This includes making the most of the brand's E-Tense electrified range, as well as targeting appropriate customers, ensuring high standards at dealerships, offering a strong blend of digital and physical sales channels, having successful new model launches, and emphasising the brand's premium status.
DS projects that in 2021, E-Tense models - including both fully electric cars and plug-in hybrids - will account for more than 30% of its UK sales, and Tilstone said that to maximise this growth, all the brands marketing would now be led by these models, with every car in the DS range having an E-Tense variant.
DS plans to only offer pure electric and plug-in hybrid powertrains in its cars from 2025.
Tilstone sees E-Tense as a major strength for DS, allowing it to capitalise on clear trends towards electrification.
He said: "In 2020 alone the UK [electrified vehicle] market grew by 66%. Fully electric was up 186%, and to put that into a European context, [electrified] vehicles outsold diesel in Q4 2020 for the first time. This is clearly an opportunity for growth for us.
"With a fully electrified range we have a competitive advantage at a time when our target audience are looking beyond the badge and to the technology on offer."
Tilstone said that this technology focus was helping DS to attract early adopters as part of its customer base, along with drivers shifting from established premium brands.
He said: "Our experience to date shows that, unsurprisingly as a new brand, with new products, bringing new technologies, we attract early adopters - people that want to stand out from the crowd with the newest offering in the market.
"However, beyond these early adopters, we're attracting those who are already driving a premium model from one of our competitors.
"These customers are often looking for something fresh in the market, both from a product offering perspective, but also in terms of driving something more exclusive."
Tilstone claimed that quality and customer experience were more important to the brand at the moment than growth.
He said: "The brand vision is centred around a high-end customer journey, and delivering this comes ahead of any short-term volume growth aspirations."
Some new brands have announced a digital-only sales strategy, but DS - which split off from Citroën in 2015 - is instead pursuing a blended approach.
Highlighting the launch of its 'virtual showroom' tool last year, and its online sales platform in January this year, Tilstone said: "These tools are hugely important as they allow a customer choice between a digital and physical experience, or a mixture of the two at every stage of the customer journey.
"I believe this choice of digital or physical offers us a competitive advantage, including over other new entrants to the market that are offering digital only or digital with a much smaller footprint."
DS is set to double the size of its range in 2021, with the new DS 4 lower-medium hatch and DS 9 executive saloon (pictured) joining the existing DS 3 Crossback and DS 7 Crossback SUVs to create a four-car line-up.
However, while Tilstone is excited for the new models, his plan isn't simply to wait for them.
He said: "We have fantastic opportunities to continue to attract new customers to DS using the DS 3 Crossback and DS 7 Crossback, and will be focused on implementing the pillars of the  plan to maximum effect so that when our new products arrive, we're in the strongest possible position to realise their potential."