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Peugeot is a major French car manufacturer, whose roots go back to bicycle manufacturing at the end of the 19th century. Peugeot is also the largest bicycle manufacturer in France
1906 Peugeot

Table of contents
1 Company History
2 Motor Sport
3 Peugeot Model Numbers
4 Car models
5 External links

Company History

Although the Peugeot factory had been in the manufacturing business for some time, their entry into the world of wheeled vehicles was by means of the bicycle. Armand Peugeot introduced the Peugeot "Le Grand Bi" penny-farthing in 1882 and a range of bicyles thereafter. Indeed, Peugeot bicycles have been built until very recently, although the car company and bike company parted ways in 1926.

Armand Peugeot became very interested in the automobile early on, and after meeting with Gottlieb Daimler and others was convinced of its viability. The first Peugeot automobile (a three-wheeled steam-powered car) was produced in 1899, in collaboration with Lťon Serpollet. Steam power was heavy and bulky and required lengthy preparation before running, so it was soon abandoned in favor of the gasoline-fuelled internal combustion engine. 1890 saw the first such vehicle, powered by a Daimler engine and with four wheels.

1999 Peugeot 206

Further cars followed, twenty-nine being built in 1892. Peugeot became the first manufacturer to fit rubber tires to a gasoline-powered car that year (solid tires; pneumatic would follow in 1895). The vehicles were still very much horseless carriages in appearance and were steered by tiller.

1896 saw the first Peugeot engines; no longer were they reliant on Daimler. Further improvements followed; the engine was soon under a hood (bonnet) at the front of the car, instead of hidden underneath, the steering wheel was adopted, and they began to look more like the modern car.

Peugeot added a motorcycle to its range in 1903, and motorcycles have been built under the Peugeot name ever since.

1913 saw a Peugeot driven by Jules Goux winning the Indianapolis 500. By that year, Peugeot produced half of the cars built in France. 1916 and 1919 saw repeat wins at Indianapolis.

During the 1914-1918 years Peugeot turned largely to arms production, becoming a major manufacturer of arms and military vehicles, from bicycles to tanks and shells. Postwar, car production resumed in earnest; the car was becoming no longer just a plaything for the rich but accessible to many. 1926, however, saw the cycle (pedal and motor) business separate to form Cycles Peugeot -- the consistently profitable cycle division seeking to free itself from the rather more boom-and-bust auto business.

1929 saw the introduction of the Peugeot 201, the first car to be numbered in what became the Peugeot way -- three numbers with a center zero, a registered Peugeot trademark. It was also the first mass-produced car with independent front suspension. Soon after, the Depression hit; Peugeot sales dived, but the company survived. In 1933, attempting a revival of fortune, the company unveiled a new, aerodynamically styled range; in the following year, a car with a folding, retractable hardtop was introduced, an idea revived by the Ford Skyliner in the 1950s and Mercedes recently.

The Second World War saw Peugeot's factories taken over for the German war effort, producing trucks and vans. The factories were heavily bombed.

1948 saw the company restarting in the car business, with the Peugeot 203. More models followed, many elegantly styled by the Italian design firm of Pininfarina. Like many European manufacturers, collaboration with other firms increased; Peugeot worked with Renault from 1966 and Volvo from 1972.

In 1974 Peugeot bought a 30% share of CitroŽn, and took it over completely in 1976. CitroŽn enthusiasts complain that the company's legendary innovation and flair took a downturn with that acquisition. The joint parent company becomes the PSA group, keeping the separate identities of both brands but sharing engineering and technical resources. The group added the European assets of Chrysler in 1978 as the American auto manufacturer struggled to survive. The factories acquired were worn-out and the models outdated, and the resulting investments caused financial problems for the PSA group.

1983 saw the launch of the popular and successful Peugeot 205, which is largely credited for turning things around. A large number of successful vehicles have followed.

Motor Sport

The company has had much success in international rallying, notably with the durable Peugeot 504, highly developed four-wheel-drive turbo-charged versions of the Peugeot 205, and more recently the Peugeot 206. Peugeot won the gruelling Paris Dakar Rally each year from 1987 to 1990.

In the 1990s the company raced at the Le Mans 24 Hours race, winning in 1992 and 1993.

The company has also been involved in providing engines to Formula One teams, notably Prost for the 1998, 1999 and 2000 seasons.

Peugeot Model Numbers

Peugeot names the models of their cars in the x0y format; x describes the size of the car (and hence its class), whereas y describes the model number (the higher the number, the newer the model). Therefore, a Peugeot 406 is bigger and newer than a Peugeot 305. This general rule has its exceptions, for instance with y=9, which has been created before y=5.

This tradition began in 1929 with the launch the 201. All numbers from 101 to 909 have been deposited as trademarks. Although in 1963 Porsche was forced to change the name of its new 901 coupť to 911, certain Ferraris and Bristolss have been allowed to keep their Peugeot-style model numbers. An unsubstantiated explanation for the central '0' is that on early models the number appeared on a plate on the front of the car, with the hole for the starting handle coinciding with the zero.

Car models

See also: List of French companies

External links

International Peugeot website: " class="external">

History of the company: