Peugeot, part of PSA Peugeot Citroen, is a French car brand that rose from a family business. The company and family is from Sochaux, France, and has a large manufacturing plant there, along with the Peugeot Museum.
As with many other vehicle manufacturers, Peugeot didn’t start out making cars. In the 18th century, the Peugeot family of France started a manufacturing business. One of the products they were producing in the 1800s was crinoline dresses, and Peugeot entered the vehicle market through these dresses.
How? The dresses were made with steel rods, and in time, the company used the rods to make umbrella frames, saw blades, wire wheels, and bicycles. In 1882, Armand Peugeot introduced the Le Grand Bi penny-farthing, along with other bicycles.
Early on, Armand had an interest in automobiles and was convinced the vehicles were viable for transportation. The first Peugeot automobile was produced in 1889—a steam-powered, three-wheeled car. The next year, Peugeot abandoned steam to work with gas-powered vehicles. Peugeot was a pioneer in auto racing with five cars qualifying for the world’s first race in 1894.
The first Peugeot engines were built in 1896. That same year, Armand broke away from the family manufacturing company to focus solely on cars. In 1903, Peugeot added motorcycles to its lineup and was producing half of the cars built in France.
World War I interrupted Peugeot’s car production as the company turned to arms production. It was a major manufacturer of arms and vehicles from bicycles to tanks and shells. After the war, Peugeot returned to car manufacturing.
Peugeot proved to be a survivor, making it through the Great Depression and World War II. In 1946, the company again went back to making cars, starting with the Peugeot 202. The company began selling cars in the United States in 1958.
Peugeot bought a 30% stake in Citroen in 1974 and took over the European division of Chrysler in 1978. The company saw good sales with its Peugeot 205 beginning in 1983, but like many European car makers, it saw North American sales fall. It pulled out of the U.S. and Canada in 1991. Peugeot returned to Mexico in 1997, but those cars cannot be bought or imported into the U.S. from Mexico.
In the 2000s, Peugeot closed several of its manufacturing plants. The company had set a goal to sell 4 million units annually by the end of the decade, but it stayed below the 2 million mark. Despite the sales slump, Peugeot continues to develop new models to compete in new market segments, such as China, Russia, and South America.
In 2014, shareholders agreed to a revitalization plan, which saw Dongfeng Motors and the French government each purchasing a 14% stake in the company.
Peugeot’s flagship car is the 508, an update to the model, seeking to put Peugeot into the luxury market. The update has given the handsome but conservative exterior a more refined, masculine air.
The updated 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine sees a bit more power than before, 123kW compared to the outgoing model’s 115kW/240Nm. This can be paired to either a six-speed manual or the company’s new EAT6 six-speed automatic transmission.
Peugeot currently has 14 models in production. These include variations of the 508 series, including the Saloon, the SW, and the RXH types. The popular 308 model is being produced as a wagon and a convertible.
The compact 108 has three- and five-door versions are stylish and offer great fuel efficiency. Speaking of fuel efficiency, Peugeot has added the 3008 Hybrid4.
Families find value in the Peugeot Tepee line, with interiors that focus on practicality with removable seats, storage spaces, and big sliding doors.
Peugeot has been a force in experimental cars for racing, and that quality has resulted in many solid cars over the years. Success began in 1926 with the introduction of the larger 153.
Numbers have been the traditional model numbers for Peugeot cars, and with the introduction of the Peugeot 201 in 1929, the naming formula of three digits with a central zero emerged. The models of the ’30s were the 202, 302, and 402, which featured curvy bodies and sloping grill bars.
The Peugeot 205 was popular in 1983 and is credited with bolstering slumping sales.
Peugeot Motorcycles remains a major producer of scooters, underbones, mopeds, and bicycles in Europe. Peugeot bicycles won 10 Tour de France races between 1903 and 1983.
Peugeot was involved in motorsport from the earliest days, but it was in 1912 that Peugeot made its most notable contribution to motor sporting history when one of their cars, driven by Georges Boillot, won the French Grand Prix at Dieppe. This revolutionary car was powered by a straight-4 engine.