Interview with Linda Jackson, CEO of Peugeot

On the occasion of the opening of Gowan Auto's new HQ, we got a chance to speak with Peugeot's CEO, Linda Jackson.
Shane O' Donoghue
Shane O' Donoghue

Published on September 14, 2023

"Please, please continue with incentives as much as you can. Please, please invest in public charging." Those are the words of Linda Jackson, Global CEO of Peugeot and Member of Top Executive Team at Stellantis, to the Irish government. Linda was in Ireland for the official opening of the impressive new Gowan Auto HQ (read the full story on that here) in Dublin and got the opportunity to speak with her about a wide range of subjects, including how best to help car buyers transition to an electric future.

Peugeot will be fully electric by 2030 in Europe

While reminding us that Peugeot will have electric versions of all its cars available by 2024 and be fully electric in Europe by 2030, Jackson also managed to 'plug' Peugeot's next new EV, the E-3008 that'll go on sale in 2024 in Ireland with a range of up to 700 kilometres (full story on that car here).

That won't compete at the bargain basement end of the scale, obviously, which is perhaps where the biggest challenges lie. Peugeot is just one of 14 car marques in the Stellantis group (the others being Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Citroen, Dodge, DS Automobiles, Fiat, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati, Opel, Ram and Vauxhall) and while they're not all offered in all markets, they all have to focus on their own core values. Jackson expanded on that: "We've chosen to differentiate them. You've got all of this technology, which of course is very efficient because we're developing it across 14 brands. And then each brand has to choose what they want to focus on."

Peugeot isn't the entry-level brand, but even so, it has a part to play in making electric cars affordable: "We also have a responsibility ourselves as a manufacturer to make sure that we have accessible offers for people to get into electric vehicles. Each market is different."

Leasing and subscription services may replace car ownership

Jackson tells us about a highly successful leasing offer in France that allows customers to use the Peugeot e-208 supermini for just €150 per month for up to 500 kilometres per month: "The way that people are having access to cars, there is no doubt it's changing. And leasing is becoming extremely popular. We've done a lot of research because there's been a lot of talk about our young people: they don't want to have to own cars. And it also depends on where you live. If up to about the age of 25 you live in a major city, you've got access to a very good public transport system. So, youngsters don't tend to want cars. Yeah, post 2025, when most of those youngsters today are either getting married, starting a family, etc, they suddenly want to have access to a car, but they don't necessarily want to own one, they want access.

"And we're seeing more and more people wanting to lease a car, not in the traditional way of owning the car, but leasing it, which is why we're testing what we call a subscription offer, in which you may lease a 2008, but you might want a bigger car at the weekend. So, you've got the ability to have a subscription like Netflix, and it gives you access."

Private leasing in Ireland is still in its infancy, certainly in comparison to France, or even the UK, but Jackson believes it will make an impact here.

"Leasing itself has almost become commonplace in the UK, where it's at a very, very high percentage. To be honest, in the next five years, I think you're going to see an enormous increase in leasing and subscription-type offers."

In France, e-208s on that leasing scheme account for 10 per cent sold, just a year on. "the actual increase of the price between an ICE [Internal Combustion Engine] and electric is something that we need to manage, and this is one way of managing it."

The threat of Chinese car brands

The conversation naturally turns to the threat the European companies are facing from the Chinese car makers and whether the next generation of car buyers will be seduced by all-new brands.

"I think this is the big dilemma for all existing OEMs isn't it because you've got the Chinese coming in with no legacy at all, purely on electric. And then you've got the legacy brands, which in fact are creating just as good vehicles or even better vehicles, in terms of electric. It's a tricky one. Peugeot has been around for 210 years. So, when you've built all of that history, but also all of the dealer network coverage, the parts, etc. and you've got the awareness, do you really want to throw that away?

"So, it's up to us to make sure that we communicate by still keeping the names [Linda is referring to sticking with proven nameplates such as the 3008], but communicating the levels of technology, the levels of investment. Stellantis has invested €30 billion in electrification, just in electrification."

Nonetheless, Jackson isn't dismissing the challenge one little bit: "I treat the Chinese as very, very serious competitors. The Chinese are coming in with very good vehicles, good quality vehicles, reasonable prices, etc, good technology. So, we should treat them with as much respect as we would treat any other competitor within the market."

Keeping prices of EVs down

And how will Peugeot - and Stellantis for that matter - manage to compete in terms of cost while making the transition from producing mostly petrol and diesel cars to manufacturing a range that is fully electrified?

"One of the major things is about reducing our cost base. And this is about, for example, sourcing our own batteries, which is why at Stellantis we've already opened our first Gigafactory. The first one is in France, it opened a couple of months ago, where we are building our own batteries with a partner. And we're going to be opening those in Italy, Germany and the States, obviously.

"It's about managing your whole supply chain and having the major components much closer to where you're manufacturing. At the moment, of course we get our batteries - have gotten our batteries - from China, Taiwan, etc. We're moving to having it sourced within Europe. That's one idea. And of course, there's all the other things that we're trying to do, which is all about trying to come up with very clever design-to-engineering, which is about reducing the costs as well. So, we really are concentrating on how to reduce our costs across the whole of the business, but particularly around the electric components."

Who is Linda Jackson?

British-born Linda Jackson cut her teeth in the automotive industry through various iterations of the Rover Group in the UK and later on in France, culminating with an appointment as European finance director in 2004. She then moved to Citroen and later on worked a spell as the managing director of Citroen UK and Ireland before promotion to CEO of Citroen. In 2021, following the creation of the Stellantis group, Linda became CEO of Peugeot.

Attending the opening of Gowan Auto's new headquarters, Linda said: "The strategic ambition of Gowan Auto is clearly demonstrated by this major investment which has delivered a state of the art facility on a par with anything I've seen across Europe. The foundations and track record of this family business underpin Gowan Auto's growth and development, and we at Peugeot, part of Stellantis, look forward to continuing our strong commercial relationship with the business."