Last year, Carlos Tavares turned French manufacturer Peugeot around from a firm that was losing money, into a once again profitable enterprise. Now Peugeot is firmly back in the picture. This was probably one of the biggest crisis situations to affect the brand since the company was founded in eastern France by brothers Jean-Pierre and Jean-Frederic Peugeot. They founded what would later become the biggest producer of cars in France and one of the most iconic manufacturers in the world.
But it was Armand Peugeot, the great-grandson of Jean-Pierre, who is often credited with transforming the family business into an automotive giant. After traveling to England, he saw the potential of the bicycle and started producing them on a large scale, and they were a huge success.
Several years later he developed a steam powered tricycle and exhibited it at the 1889 World Fair in Paris; laying down the foundations of the group’s automotive ingenuity.
The advent of internal combustion engines
When combustion engines became more reliable, Armand took to them immediately and together with his cousin Eugene, created the first Peugeot car, using a Daimler engine. However, Eugene was sceptical about making a big investment in this new technology, forcing Armand to set up the automotive branch on his own. He built a factory in Audincourt, to begin production of internal combustion engine cars. By the time he retired, Peugeot were the biggest manufacturer in France, producing 10,000 cars per year.
World War 2 stalled production of popular cars as main plants were converted to help the war effort.
After the end of the war Peugeot, restarted production and in 1947 released the 203: it’s most popular car up until this point. They produced 700,000 model copies of the car and actually proved popular enough to be the only model in production, up until the release of the 403 in 1955.
In 1983, the firm released the 205, the car credited with turning the company’s fortunes around completely. The hot hatch proved popular in France and Britain thanks to its chic styling and fantastic handling. This model is still popular today and the GTI versions are still increasing in value.
How they look today
Modern Peugeots are getting an industry-wide boost thanks to the financial help now available to buy a new car. Leasing options and telematic boxes let owners drive away new cars at a very little initial cost, something that has helped the firm’s recovery in the last year or so. Plans for 2 new SUV’s look set to revive the functional roots of Peugeot’s past. Hybrid and EV cars are also set to be produced within 3 years, signifying a bold entrepreneurial change that Armand Peugeot himself would probably have been proud of.