Peugeot is looking at 2010 as the year in which the industry will change its perception of the brand. A raft of better-quality new product backed up by investment in the fleet department is designed to give the brand a lift in terms of how it is seen by the market.

“The worse place to be is for people to be apathetic about the brand,” said Peugeot fleet and light commercial vehicle boss Phil Robson. “If people have an opinion, that’s when we can start talking. If people don’t aspire to drive your vehicles it will always be a challenge.”

Robson pointed to the new 3008 hatchback-small 4×4 crossover, 5008 mini-MPV, the RC-Z sports car coming in April plus next summer’s Ion electric-powered city car as examples of how better-quality product will lead the brand forward. Each of those models enters a new segment for Peugeot and should mean largely incremental volume.

“Anyone who has sat in a 3008 or 5008 will appreciate the difference in quality,” he said. “If we want to be desirable and aspirational we have to be ballsy enough to put competitors in the same room. Could we have done it three years ago? It would have been a challenge. It’s time to reappraise Peugeot.”

To capatilise on the new product push, Peugeot is increasing its fleet department by 10 new permanent employees, a 30% increase.