Sliding Doors – 2004 Peugeot 1007

The Peugeot 1007 was an abject failure, but could the story have played out differently? Driven to Write gets the popcorn out.

Image: auto-selection

In the 1998 movie of the same name, the eponymous sliding doors were a plot device or portal into an alternative reality – a form of magical thinking akin to the notion that one’s life can turn on a sixpence. On one hand: lose job, meet nice John Hannah on the underground. Romance ensues, as do more plot devices, Get run over by car. (I haven’t seen the film, so I’m paraphrasing here). On the other: lose job, meet nice Chris Martin from Coldplay. Romance ensues, get married, start a fabulously lucrative business pandering to the insecure and over-privileged.

Image: Allmovie

Hindsight is a little like imaginary portals into (im)plausible realities. Great in theory. We can now look back at the years running up to the 2007 financial crash and marvel. Could the car companies not see the impending train? Look, it’s behind you! Of course they couldn’t – they were too busy dreaming up niche fillers like this. The Peugeot 1007, like the Mercedes A-Class it distantly resembled was not only an answer to a question nobody was asking, it was the wrong answer in itself. Were PSA taking Sindelfingen’s crazy pills?

In theory, the ‘Mille-Sept’ could have made sense. The original Smart car  really took off in congested European cities, a fact which probably wasn’t lost on PSA’s product planners. Therefore they must have reasoned, a compact, upright citycar would appeal to urbanites and could, with the right specification, be sold at a decent premium over more conventional superminis.

Image: Weilinet

Which is of course what they based it on – in this case the shared PSA floorpan and component set from the 206/Citroen C3. A range of engines was offered – two petrol and two diesel. The real novelty however lay with the bodyshell. Short in length (3.73 m) but tall and upright (1.61m); dimensions not entirely conducive to stylistic comeliness. Complicating matters further was the decision to add a pair of sliding doors. Again, one can see the rationale, allowing for easier ingress and exit in tight urban centres while providing a USP for the vehicle. Electrifying their operation would help further justify a higher price point.

At this stage, Peugeot’s planners should really have taken a deep breath and asked themselves – ‘really’? Moreover, producing an attractive vehicle out of something with the 1007’s dimensions is fiendishly difficult – (though not impossible), so I have some sympathy with Peugeot’s stylists. However, what could have been a neat looking little city car ended up having every contemporary ‘Drive Sexy’ styling cue slapped front, centre and rear, resulting in a car which came into being resembling something even Postman Pat would have shuffled uncomfortably in his shoes at before making his excuses.

Postman Pat and his black & white cat. Image: electric-design

The 1007 was launched in 2004 with a price of €18,000, and this coupled to those looks meant it wasn’t long before the incentives were flying. According to Max Warburton of Bernstein Research, PSA’s initial projections for the 1007 was between 150-200,000 cars per annum, but with production from Peugeot’s Poissy plant peaking at just under 54,000 cars in 2005 – (dropping alarmingly thereafter), the car’s “disastrous commercial failure,” was assured. Warburton estimated PSA lost €15,000 per car, the overall programme loss being €1.9 billion, saying, “The tooling cost for the bespoke exterior and interior of the 1007 was basically a write-off and the big hole left in the utilization of Poissy has been a drag on Peugeot since.”

No matter how clever or suitable for its purpose a car might be, if the public rejects it, your goose is cooked. The 1007 may have been too expensive, but they might have got away with it had it looked even moderately attractive. Ironically, Peugeot seemed to have the solution in their back pocket. A decade previously, Poissy’s stylists came up the Ion concept – a compact electric city car. Looking at it now one can observe that the surfacing was a little softer than noughties’ norms, and in typical concept car fashion, there are lots of styling features that would have to be lost, (not least the headlamp positioning) but taken overall, very little of significance had dated in the intervening ten years.

It would be interesting to learn how many styling proposals were rejected before the eventual design was chosen, not to mention the political machinations that saw it go forward for production. Perhaps PSA’s management saw the press coverage Renault was getting from the Avantime and thought; ‘Why should they have all the fun? Let’s get our own over-ambitious, ruinously loss-making white elephant’. It would be equally fascinating to learn whether those who sanctioned the ‘Mille-Sept’ retained their positions in the aftermath of its denouement.

Image: wroom.ru

It’s probably overly simplistic to suggest that had the 1007 looked something more akin to the Ion concept, it might have succeeded, because realistically, the 1007 in any form was fatally flawed from the off. The business case simply didn’t stack up. In the movies, the suspension of disbelief is a prerequisite – especially when it comes to romantic comedies. In the motor business however, magical thinking leads one way – to the door marked failure.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Founding Editor. Content Provider.

11 thoughts on “Sliding Doors – 2004 Peugeot 1007”

  1. That, after initial slow sales, the sliding doors got the reputation of developing a life of their own (especially when going through a car wash) didn’t help it take off, either. And the “easy entry” feature was translated by the press into “old people’s car”, which means it instantly became unsaleable to people of any age.

    1. The problem was that the doors were opened by pressing a large upright and horizontally moving button in the vertical door handle. In a car wash these buttons were easily triggered by the rotating brushes and the doors went open.
      Peugeot issued a service bulletin informing customers that they should lock the doors from inside before entering a car wash to prevent this.

  2. That’s a whopping loss this runty little car cost its manufacturer. Looking at it now, it resembles one of those Aixam one cylinder jobs on a bad day (week? year??). Moreover, it looks like that the car was just designed around the sliding door concept, and so it compromised everything. What was it they were thinking of?

  3. Peugeot’s self-destructive tendencies at that time are worthy of, at least, an extended essay, or even a book.

    Even disregarding the (lack of a) business case for the 1007, I’m still amazed by the astounding levels of stylistic incompetence the likes of it, as well as its 407, 308 brothers betray. These cars were shockingly misbegotten when new and have aged very disgracefully indeed.

    1. I agree that the 508 is not a great piece of design. I still see some merits in it, as for me it’s the car that marks the turnaround at Peugeot that leads from the nadir of 407 and 308 towards much better designs as we see today in the 2nd generation 308 or the 3/5008 sisters.

  4. Back when it was current, I had a 1007 as a loan car (not my choice) for a couple of days, with a petrol engine (1.4 or 1.6, not sure), and mine also had the optional 2-Tronic semi automatic transmission. Ah, but no problem, we have the up / down paddles, by which we can use our manly gearshifting skills, to extract the maximum performance … except, of course, that this made no discernible difference.

    Weighing in at 1300 kg (about 200 kg more than a typical 206), and cursed with this transmission, the performance in urban conditions was so leisurely, that driving it pensioner – style was the only option. And with its top heavy feel, perhaps that was just as well.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Richard, it’s always interesting to hear about matters like this first hand. I believe the operation of the electric sliding doors was so glacially slow that owners ended up getting soaked in poor weather, amongst other indignities.

      Certainly, they would not have been particularly conducive to fast getaways, an oxymoron in itself, by the sound of things. You really do have to wonder at the thinking behind such a car. It wasn’t just Peugeot either – the entire European industry was at it in one shape or form. If the financial crash did one thing, it brought them all rather abruptly to their senses.

  5. I remember 2005, Peugeot was forecasting to build 120000 pieces of this unlucky number every year – but the whole production was not more than 125000 pieces in 5 years – so the market gave the right answer to this quirky but uncool car.

    in my opinion, the 1007 and the Toyota IQ, they share the same faith. They did offer something different to other cars – at a higher price – without being attractive. So both were flops, which was good in the case of the the 1007 and a bit unfair for the IQ, which was much better than the Smart as a commuter car.
    But Peugeot was not the king of flops, this was Renault – with the VelSatis, the Avantime, the Bepop and later on with the Wind, Renault often proved their competence in this category…

    1. The iQ was not a bad concept, it certainly made more sense the 1007 whose crime was to patronise the user. I expect customer clinics were held and participants said they really liked it too.
      Your Renault roll call is impressively long. In the case of the AvanTime and VeLSatIS it is my feeling customers were too timid – they are both very original cars and deserved better in the way the 1007 didn’t.

  6. The 1007 was quickly doomed to loan car and daily rental fleets, preferably far from the company heartland to conceal embarrassment. They were all over the Algarve in summer 2005.

    Nobody’s mentioned it yet – although it appears in Liepedia – but Toyota came up with the Porte, a similarly odd car, the year before the 1007 was presented to an aghast Europe in 2005.

    Yaris based, and the sliding door is on the passenger side, the driver’s door is conventionally hinged. The first generation went on until 2012, the second generation continues, with two hinged doors on the driver’s side, and the passenger’s side sliding.

    The TPCA alliance (Aygo / 107 / C1) was well underway as the 1007 was being developed. Were Toyota and Peugeot sharing ideas, or was the resemblance entirely coincidental?

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