Mar 03 - French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen may seek more cost savings after 2016 on top of the 1.5 billion euros already planned. That's according to the new CEO who spoke to Reuters Julian Satterthwaite
The French car industry is now the tale of Carlos versus Carlos. Longtime Renault boss Carlos Ghosn now facing down Carlos Tavares, incoming boss of Peugeot Citroen. And it's a very personal rivalry - Tavares was the CFO of Renault before an abrupt, and seemingly acrimonious departure last year. Tavares takes over at Peugeot at a critical juncture. After years of losses the automaker has just taken an infusion of cash from the French state and China's Dongfeng Auto. Tavares gave his first interview as Peugeot boss at an event in Paris organised by French trade publication 7pm Auto in collaboration with Reuters. He says the company's financial position means he may have to go beyond current targets on cost cutting: (SOUNDBITE) (English): CARLOS TAVARES, CEO, PEUGEOT, SAYING: ''I am not the kind of guy who is going to stop at the object because he has reached the objective. What is important is that we make sure that we have in the company the competitive mindset that gives PSA the ability to have a sustainable business, which means a profitable business. So we'll see in 2016 where we are. If we have the opportunity to go beyond, why should we stop?'' With part of the firm now owned by the French state, Peugeot is more than ever a national symbol. But state support may mean less freedom to cut jobs and close factories. Tavares says he will honour current promises until 2016 - but after that he may try and sell change to the French government (SOUNDBITE) (English): CARLOS TAVARES, CEO, PEUGEOT, SAYING: ''I think it is part of my job to explain to our shareholders where are the levers for profitability, where are the levers for sustainable, profitable growth. That will be part of my job and I will do it, of course. And then we'll see. But everything that we have seen so far from the presence of the French state in our competitor's board seems to indicate concretely that things can be done.'' That leaves one mystery - the exact circumstances of his departure from Renault. Tavares says the full story will remain forever a matter between him, and that other Carlos.