In the past period, we have built a strong trust among manufacturers, distributors and customers.
Our business and approach towards our business partners is based on the following core values: customer relationship, ample expertise, good ratio between investment and return, and high-quality products. Accordingly, in Croatia, we guarantee safety and quality of our offer in the personal and business vehicle segment, in post-sales services and in spare parts delivery – says Tomislav Miletić, General Manager of Automobil Import, for Diplomacy & Commerce magazine.
You have been in this business for two decades now. How much has this sector changed, especially after Croatia’s entry into the EU?
It has changed in a way that the flow of goods is much faster now while the administrative tasks related to the import of cars in Croatia were reduced. The used car market was liberalized, the import of used vehicles of questionable quality was given a much brighter green light and, as a consequence, there has been a significant increase in their market share. As a result, the sale of new vehicles failed to record a significant growth.
2. How much have these changes affected the changes in business policies in your sector?
The brands Peugeot, Citroën and DS have been present in the Croatian market for many years and some models have gained almost cult status over the past years with our customers, be it passenger or delivery vehicles. Since the end of the 1990’s, these brands were represented by PSA affiliates, and since the beginning of last year by the Emil Frey Group. All this time, the guiding idea in Peugeot and Citroën companies has been the need to offer our customers the best possible quality of service and the ideal investment / return ratio. We developed this approach and business philosophy within the PSA Group, hence the transition and integration into the Emil Frey Group was more natural and easier for us.
What do you consider a winning combination that leads to an increase of the market share of the brands you represent?
Product attractiveness, complete service – from sales and financing to maintenance and customer monitoring the moment they become vehicle owners, fostering loyalty through Citroën Forever and Peugeot Forever programmes which offer number of benefits that ensure a more affordable maintenance in the network of authorized service centres.
In which economic segments is the demand for new cars most pronounced and what do you offer in that respect?
The sales in the segment of auxiliary construction services segment have increased. The growth in the sale of light commercial vehicles to small and medium enterpriseis particularly noticeable. Our expectations are even greater when the Law on Input Tax Refund entered into force, which stipulates that companies are again entitled to incentives when purchasing passenger cars. Citroën and Peugeot have always been either at the very top or close to it when it comes to manufacturers of light commercial vehicles, with a diverse gamma that meets the very diverse needs of professional users which have become an integral part of a company fleet not only in small and medium entrepreneurs, but also some of the largest Croatian companies (from the smallest C3 Entreprise and 208 Business, to Berlingo and Partner Furgon, Jumpy and Expert delivery vehicles, all the way to Jumper and Boxer). Companies are mostly interested in the Citroën C3, SUV C3 Aircross and C-Elysée, while, in terms of the Peugeot brand, they are interested in mostly Peugeot 208, 308 and SUVs 2008, 3008 and 5008.
How does the application of new European standards affect the changes in the structure of the vehicle fleet in Croatia?
Croatia has one of the most conservative tax policies in the European Union in the domain of car sales, which, apart from VAT, relies on the so-called PPMV, ie Special Tax on Motor Vehicles. Therefore, we are forced to adapt to these legal frameworks, but the fact that the introduction of a new CO2 emission measurement protocol not only in Croatia but also throughout the European Union will have a significant impact on market trends at the time of its entry into force.
What novelties do you have for this year?
Peugeot has extended its SUV range to include the new SUV 5008, in addition to the SUVs 2008 and 3008. We have also launched the second version of our most popular model in the world, the new Peugeot 308. At the beginning of this year, we launched an urban car – Peugeot 108, which is the perfect response to the needs of urban mobility. In a few months’ time, we are going to launch the new Peugeot 508, the fastback sedan of the future, which boosts our ambitions in the segment of large sedans.
We launched our new compact C4 Cactus in the Croatian market in May. But apart from this model, we are going to launch another, very important model for the Citroën brand in autumn – the New Berlingo, which transcends a regular car as it has a cult status. At the end of the year, we are going to launch a new SUV C5 Aircross, our flagship in the Croatian market.
How does the recovery of the Croatian economy reflect on the demand for new cars?
We are closely monitoring the recovery of the economy because we have noticed an increased demand for vehicles, especially in the segment of delivery vehicles. In financing terms, we have seen a higher share of leasing. The rent-a-car market has been definitely growing year-on-year, as did the export of so-called “buy back” cars from Croatia. There was also an increased demand for taxi vehicles as a result of new legal framework and the liberalization of this market.