Peugeot is a major French car brand, part of PSA Peugeot Citroën, the second largest carmaker based in Europe.
The family business that precedes the current Peugeot company was founded in 1810. On 20 November 1858, Emile Peugeot applied for the lion trademark. The company produced its first automobile in 1891. Due to family discord, Armand Peugeot in 1896 founded the Société des Automobiles Peugeot.
Peugeot's roots go back to 19th-century coffee mill and bicycle manufacturing. The Peugeot company and family is originally from Sochaux, France. Peugeot retains a large manufacturing plant and Peugeot Museum there. It also sponsors the Sochaux football club, founded in 1928 by a member of the Peugeot family.
The Peugeot family of Valentigney, Montbéliard, Franche-Comté, France, began in the manufacturing business in the 18th century. In 1842, they added production of coffee, pepper, and salt grinders. The company's entry into the vehicle market was by means of crinoline dresses, which used steel rods, leading to umbrella frames, saw blades, wire wheels, and ultimately bicycles. Armand Peugeot introduced his "Le Grand Bi" penny-farthing in 1882, along with a range of other bicycles. Peugeot bicycles continued to be built until very recently, although the car company and bike company parted ways in 1926.
Armand Peugeot became 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 designed by Léon Serpollet) was produced in 1889; only four examples were made. Steam power was heavy and bulky and required lengthy warmup times. In 1890, after meeting Gottlieb Daimler and Émile Levassor, steam was abandoned in favour of a four-wheeled car with a petrol-fuelled internal combustion engine built by Panhard under Daimler licence. The car was more sophisticated than many of its contemporaries, with a three-point suspension and a sliding-gear transmission.
1896 saw the first Peugeot engines built; no longer were they reliant on Daimler. Designed by Rigoulot, the first engine was an 8 hp (6.0 kW) horizontal twin fitted to the back of the Type 15. It also served as the basis of a nearly exact copy produced by Rochet-Schneider. Further improvements followed: the engine moved to the front on the Type 48 and was soon under a hood (bonnet) at the front of the car, instead of hidden underneath; the steering wheel was adopted on the Type 36; and they began to look more like the modern car.
In 1896 Armand Peugeot broke away from Les Fils de Peugeot Frères to form his own company, Société Anonyme des Automobiles Peugeot, building a new factory at Audincourt to focus entirely on cars. In 1899, sales hit 300; total car sales for all of France that year were 1200. The same year, Lemaitre won the Nice-Castellane-Nice Rally in a special 5,850 cc (357 cu in) 20 hp (14.9 kW) racer.
At the 1901 Paris Salon, Peugeot debuted a tiny shaft-driven 652 cc (40 cu in) 5 hp (3.7 kW) one-cylinder, dubbed Bébé (Baby), and shed its conservative image, becoming a style leader. After placing nineteenth in the 1902 Paris-Vienna rally with a 50 hp (37.3 kW) 11,322 cc (691 cu in) racer, and failing to finish with two similar cars, Peugeot quit racing.
Peugeot added a motorcycle to its range in 1903, and motorcycles have been built under the Peugeot name ever since. By 1903, Peugeot produced half of the cars built in France, and they offered the 5 hp (4 kW) Bébé, a 6.5 hp (4.8 kW) four-seater, and an 8 hp (6.0 kW) and 12 hp (8.9 kW) resembling contemporary Mercedes models.
The 1907 Salon showed Peugeot's first six-cylinder, and marked Tony Huber joining as engine builder. By 1910, Peugeot's product line included a 1,149 cc (70 cu in) two-cylinder and six four-cylinders, of between 2 litres and 6 liters. In addition, a new factory opened the same year at Sochaux, which became the main plant in 1928.
For the 1913 French Grand Prix, an improved L5 (with 5,655 cc (345 cu in) engine) was produced with a pioneering ballbearing crankshaft, gear-driven camshafts, and dry sump lubrication, all of which soon became standard on racing cars; unfortunately, Zuccarelli was killed during testing on public roads, but Boillot easily won the event, making him (and Peugeot) the race's first double winner. For the 1914 French GP, Peugeot was overmatched by Mercedes, and despite a new innovation, four-wheel brakes (against the Mercedes' rear-only), Georges proved unable to match them and the car broke down. (Surprisingly, a 1914 model turned a 103 mph (165.8 km/h) lap in practice at Indy in 1949, yet it failed to qualify.) Peugeot was more fortunate in 1915, winning at the French GP and Vanderbilt Cup.
During the '20s, Peugeot expanded, in 1926 splitting the cycle (pedal and motor) business off to form Cycles Peugeot, the consistently profitable cycle division seeking to free itself from the rather more cyclical auto business, and taking over the defunct Bellanger and De Dion companies in 1927. 1928 saw the introduction of the Type 183.
New for 1929 was the Peugeot 201, the cheapest car on the French market, and the first to use the later Peugeot trademark (and registered as such)—three digits with a central zero. The 201 would get independent front suspension in 1931, Soon afterwards the Depression hit; Peugeot sales decreased but the company survived.
In 1933, attempting a revival of fortune, the company unveiled a new, aerodynamically styled range. In 1934 Peugeot introduced the 402 BL Éclipse Décapotable, the first convertible with a retractable hardtop — an idea followed later by the Ford Skyliner in the 1950s and revived in the modern era by the Mitsubishi 3000GT Spyder in 1995. More recently, many manufacturers have offered retractable hardtops, including Peugeot itself with the 206 cc.
Three interesting models of the thirties were the Peugeot 202, Peugeot 302 and Peugeot 402. These cars had curvaceous bodies, with headlights behind sloping grille bars, evidently inspired by the Chrysler Airflow. The 2.1 liter 402 entered production in 1935 and was produced until the end of 1941, despite France's occupation by the Nazis. For 1936, there was the new Airflow-inspired 302 (which ran until 1938) and a 402-based large model, designed by Andrean, which featured a vertical fin and bumper, with the first high-mounted taillight. The entry-level 202 was built in series from 1938–1942, and about 20 more examples were built from existing stocks of supplies in February 1945. The 202 lifted Peugeot's sales in 1939 to 52,796, just behind Citroën. Regular production began again in mid-1946, and lasted into 1949.
Peugeot have stores located on the Champs Elysees in Paris, as well as Berlin. The Berlin showroom is larger than the Paris one, but both feature regularly changing mini-exhibitions featuring production and concept cars. Both also feature a small Peugeot Boutique, and they are popular places for Peugeot fans to visit. Peugeot Avenue Berlin also features a Café, called Café de France.
Peugeot was involved in motorsport from the earliest days and entered five cars for the Paris-Rouen Trials in 1894 with one of them, driven by Lemaitre, finishing second. These trials are usually regarded as the first motor sporting competition. Participation in a variety of events continued until World War I, 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 designed by Ernest Henry under the guidance of the technically knowledgeable racing drivers Paul Zuccarelli and Georges Boillot. The design was very influential for racing engines as it featured for the first time DOHC and four valves per cylinder providing for high engine speeds, a radical departure from previous racing engines which relied on huge displacement for power. In 1913 Peugeots of similar design to the 1912 Grand Prix car won the French Grand Prix at Amiens and the Indianapolis 500. When one of the Peugeot racers remained in the United States during World War I and parts could not be acquired from France for the 1914 season, owner Bob Burma had it serviced in the shop of Harry Miller by a young mechanic named Fred Offenhauser. Their familiarity with the Peugeot engine was the basis of the famed Miller racing engine, which later developed into the Offenhauser.
Peugeot has had much success in international rallying, most notably in the World Rally Championship with the four-wheel-drive turbo-charged versions of the Peugeot 205, and more recently the Peugeot 206. In 1981, Jean Todt, former co-driver for Hannu Mikkola, Timo Mäkinen and Guy Fréquelin among others, was asked by Jean Boillot, the head of Automobiles Peugeot, to create a competition department for PSA Peugeot Citroën. This was established at Vélizy-Villacoublay, France. The resulting Peugeot Talbot Sport debuted its Group B 205 Turbo 16 at the 1984 Tour de Corse in May, and took its first world rally win that same year at the 1000 Lakes Rally in August, in the hands of Ari Vatanen. Excluding an endurance rally where Peugeot were not participating, Vatanen went on win five world rallies in a row.
In 1999, Peugeot returned to the World Rally Championship with the 206 WRC. The car was immediately competitive against such opposition as the Subaru Impreza WRC, the Ford Focus WRC and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. Marcus Grönholm gave the car its first win at the 2000 Swedish Rally, and Peugeot went on to win the manufacturers' title in their first full year since the return, and Grönholm the drivers' title in his first full WRC season. After successfully but narrowly defending their manufacturers' title in 2001, Peugeot Sport dominated the 2002 season, taking eight wins in the hands of Grönholm and Gilles Panizzi. Grönholm also took the drivers' title. For the 2004 season, Peugeot retired the 206 WRC in favour of the new 307 WRC. The 307 WRC did not match its predecessor in success, but Grönholm took three wins with the car, one in 2004 and two in 2005. PSA Peugeot Citroën withdrew Peugeot from the WRC after the 2005 season, while Citroën took a sabbatical year in 2006 and returned for the next season. Meanwhile, Gronholm departed Peugeot when they quit at the end of 2005 to partner young compatriot Mikko Hirvonen at Ford.
Throughout the mid-1990s, the Peugeot 406 saloon (called a sedan in some countries) contested touring car championships across the world, enjoying success in France, Germany and Australia, yet failing to win a single race in the British Touring Car Championship despite a number of podium finishes under the command of 1992 British Touring Car Champion Tim Harvey. In Gran Turismo 2 the 406 saloon description sums its racing career up as "a competitive touring car which raced throughout Europe".
In 2001, Peugeot entered three 406 coupes into the British touring car championship to compete with the dominant Vauxhall Astra coupes. Unfortunately the 406 coupe was at the end of its product life-cycle and was not competitive, despite some promise towards the end of the year, notably when Peugeot's Steve Soper led a race only to suffer engine failure in the last few laps. The 406 coupes were retired at the end of the following year and replaced with the Peugeot 307—again, uncompetitively—in 2003.
Peugeot has been racing in the Stock Car Brasil series since 2007 and won the 2008 and 2009 championships.
Peugeot returned to sportscar racing and Le Mans in 2007 with the diesel-powered Peugeot 908 HDi FAP. At the 2007 24 Hours of Le Mans, Stéphane Sarrazin secured pole position but the 908s proved unreliable and ceded victory to Audi. In 2008, the Sarrazin again earned a pole position but Audi prevailed once again. For the 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs finished first and second overall, led by drivers Marc Gené, David Brabham, and Alexander Wurz.
The company has also been involved in providing engines to Formula One teams, notably to McLaren in 1994, to Jordan for the 1995, 1996 and 1997 seasons, and to Prost for the 1998, 1999 and 2000 seasons. Peugeot's F1 interests were sold to Asiatech at the end of the 2000 season.
Peugeot also produced bicycles starting in 1882 in Beaulieu, France (with ten Tour de France wins between 1903 and 1983) followed by motorcycles and cars in 1889. In the late 1980s Peugeot sold the North American rights to the Peugeot bicycle name to ProCycle, a Canadian company which also sold bicycles under the CCM and Velo Sport names The European rights were briefly sold to Cycleurope S.A., returning to Peugeot in the 1990s.
Peugeot Motorcycles remains a major producer of scooters, underbones, mopeds, and bicycles in Europe. Peugeot produced an electric motor scooter, the Peugeot Scoot'Elec, from 1996 to 2006, and is projected to re-enter the market in 2011 with the E-Vivacity.