GENEVA – Automobiles Peugeot is counting on the new 407 unveiled here to sell 1.5 million units in the next seven years, but with an annual capacity of 300,000 units, the car could do even better.

The vehicle, which already has received wide publicity, will go on sale in late April as a sedan, and in the summer as the 407SW station wagon version, says Frederic Saint-Geours, Peugeot general manager. (See related story: Peugeot Predicts New 407 to Recapture D-Segment Sales)

407SW station wagon

Project Manager John Millie says European fleet buyers and dealers believe the SW version will account for 40% of sales. “We’re going to move a lot of sedan buyers into the SW,” says Millie, even in fleets. About a third of Peugeot’s sales in Europe are to fleets and companies.

The 407 is relying on looks, road handling and safety as key sales points.

Among the nine airbags is one on the steering column to protect drivers’ legs during front-end accidents.

At the show here, Peugeot also presented a concept rally version of the 407, the Silhouette, which recalls the brand’s efforts to beat its sister, Citroen, in the World Rally Championship this year.(See related story: Citroen C4 Concept Hints at Shape of Xsara Replacement)

Millie says it is unlikely that Peugeot will develop a coupe/convertible version, like it did with the 206 and 307.

“The platform could handle it,” he says, “but it would require a very long roof, and to store it, the rear overhang would have to be extended. That would rupture the lines of the car. It would be at the limit of possibilities.” Plus, he says, the market is small for fullsize convertibles the size of the 407.

Peugeot also presented the 3-box 307 sedan that goes into production in

China later this year at the Dongfeng Peugeot Citroen Automobiles joint venture in Wuhan. (See related story: Dongfeng Peugeot to Build New 307 Sedan in China)

With the new vehicles, Saint-Geours says Peugeot aims at beating its 2002 sales record by growing to 1,950,000 units.