Happy 200th, Peugeot!
Two brothers, Jean-Pierre and Jean-Frédéric Peugeot, established the Peugeot company by converting their father’s corn mill into a steel mill to make the most of the blossoming industrial revolution - and went on to create a brand that has survived for 200 years.
In the two centuries since, Peugeot has been associated with tools, salt and pepper mills and coffee grinders, bicycles, motorcycles and scooters, and cars and vans, and the lion symbol so closely related to the brand was first adopted in 1858 as the emblem for Peugeot’s saws and ancillary tools.
What this symbol has come to represent has changed several times since then too, as have the marque’s products – the first Peugeot bicycles and motorcycles were produced from 1886, the first motor car, a petrol four-wheeler codenamed Type 2, in 1891.
The numeric naming system in use today was first seen in 1929 with the 201, so named because it was the engineering department’s 201st project, and the series has since stuck. The first number indicates the vehicle’s family and the third the model’s generation, with the 0 thrown in because it has a nice ring to it. Of course, this also means that the 207 zipping about today is directly related to the first 201 from 1929...
Additional letters – CC (Coupe Cabriolet) and SW (“station wagon”) – were launched in 2000, and in 2004, the four-digit 1007 was the first in a new way to depict models not part of the original Peugeot range.
For its motor cars, Peugeot claims a host of innovations including independent suspension, the Coupé Cabriolet, production diesel engines, electric power and also credits an endearing relationship with motorsport.
Being French, Peugeots have for a long time also been revered for their expressive designs. According to the manufacturer, the design genes were first mapped in the 30s when the marque’s first styling department was headed by Henri Thomas. A relationship with coachbuilder Pininfarina in 1955 to style the 403 gave rise to a successful partnership that bore several more successful Peugeot designs.
To 2015 and beyond
Fast forward to 2010 and Peugeot appears to be reinventing itself yet again. The marque has ambitions of climbing three places in the world car rankings (we're unsure whether this is with or without the help of alliance partner Citroen), set design benchmarks and become a leader in “mobility services” by 2015.
To achieve this, the carmaker plans to release 14 new models between 2010 and 2012 and adopt a new visual identity and international signature – Peugeot, Motion and Emotion.
With some predicting that the manufacturers around today will not all be with us ten years from now, Peugeot’s formula of innovation and good design seems to have worked in its favour for the past 200 years and is a testament to an enterprising spirit. We won’t be around to see it, but we'll hope that the next 200 years will be as fruitful for this French manufacturer.
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