|Traded as||Citroën S.A|
|Area served||Worldwide, except United States, Canada, Mexico, and South Asia|
|Key people||Linda Jackson, Director|
|Products||Automobiles, Commercial Vehicles|
|Production output||1,266,000 vehicles (2013)|
|Revenue||59.912 Billion (2013)|
|Operating income||59.912 Billion (2013)|
|Net income||3148.00 Billion (2012)|
|Owners||PSA Peugeot Citroën|
|Parent||PSA Peugeot Citroën|
Founded in 1919 by French industrialist André-Gustave Citroën (1878–1935), Citroën was the first mass-production car company outside the USA and pioneered the modern concept of creating a sales and services network that complements the motor car. Within eight years Citroën had become Europe's largest car manufacturer and the 4th largest in the world.
Citroën earned a reputation for innovation and revolutionary engineering, which is reflected in the company's slogan "Créative Technologie". Its history of innovation began with its founding, when André-Gustave Citroën introduced the first industrial mass production of vehicles outside the United States, a technique he developed while mass-producing armaments for the French military in World War I. In 1924, Citroën produced Europe’s first all-steel-bodied car, the B10. In 1934, Citroën secured its reputation for innovation with its Traction Avant, not only the world's first mass-produced front-wheel drive car, but also one of the first cars to feature a monocoque-type body. In 1954 Citroën produced the world's first hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension system, then in 1955 the revolutionary Citroën DS, the first European production car with disc brakes. In 1967, Citroën introduced swiveling headlights in several models, allowing for greater visibility on winding roads.
Citroën received many international awards like the 1972 Car of the Year award in the USA, 3 European Car of the Year awards, 3 Car of the Year awards in Ireland, 8 Car of the Year awards in Italy, 9 Car of the Year awards in Spain.
Citroën is the only automobile manufacturer to have won three different official championships from the International Automobile Federation: World Rally Raid Championship, World Rally Championship, and World Touring Car Championship. In 2014, Citroën is the automaker that has won the most world championship titles: 14 World Champion titles in 15 appearances. Citroën won the World Rally Raid Championship 5 times, the World Rally Championship 8 times, and the World Touring Car Championship for its first participation.
The brand celebrated its 90th Anniversary in 2009.
André Citroën built armaments for France during World War I; after the war, however, unless he planned ahead he knew he would have a modern factory without a product. There was nothing automatic about the decision to become an automobile manufacturer once the war was finished, but the auto-business was one that Citroën knew well, thanks to a successful six year stint working with Mors between 1908 and the outbreak of war. The decision to switch to automobile manufacturing was evidently taken as early as 1916 which is when Citroën asked the engineer Louis Dufresne, previously with Panhard, to design a technically sophisticated 18HP automobile for which he could use his factory once peace broke out. Long before that happened, however, he had modified his vision, and decided, (like Henry Ford), that the best post war opportunities in auto-making would involve a lighter car of good quality, but made in sufficient quantities to be priced enticingly. In February 1917 Citroën contacted another engineer, Jules Salomon, who already had a considerable reputation within the French automotive sector as the creator, in 1909, of a little car called Le Zèbre. André Citroën's mandate was characteristically demanding and characteristically simple: to produce an all-new design for a 10 HP car that would be better equipped, more robust and less costly to produce than any rival product at the time. The result was the Type A, announced to the press, just four months after the guns fell silent, in March 1919. The first "production" Type A emerged from the factory at the end of May, and in June it was exhibited at a show room in the Champs-Élysées which normally sold Alda cars. Citroën persuaded the owner of the Alda business, Fernand Charron, to lend him the show-room (just as a few years later Charron would be persuaded to become a major investor in Citroën business). On 7 July 1919 the first customer took delivery of a new Citroën 10HP "Type A".
That same year, André Citroën briefly negotiated with General Motors on a proposed sale of the Citroën company to GM. The deal nearly closed, but GM ultimately decided that its management and capital would be too overstretched by the takeover. Citroën thus remained independent till 1935.
Citroën was a keen marketer—he used the Eiffel Tower as the world's largest advertising sign, as recorded in Guinness World Records. He also sponsored expeditions in Asia (Croisière Jaune), North America, (Croisière Blanche) and Africa (Croisière Noire) intended to demonstrate the potential for motor vehicles equipped with the Kégresse track system to cross inhospitable regions. The expeditions conveyed scientists and journalists.
Demonstrating extraordinary toughness, a 1923 Citroën that had already travelled 48,000 km (30,000 mi) was the first car to be driven around Australia. The car, a 1923 Citroën 5CV Type C Torpedo, was driven by Neville Westwood from Perth, Western Australia, on a round trip from August to December 1925. The car is now fully restored and in the collection of the National Museum of Australia.
In 1924, Citroën began a business relationship with American engineer Edward G. Budd. From 1899, Budd had worked to develop stainless steel bodies for railroad cars, for the Pullman in particular. Budd went on to manufacture steel bodies for many automakers, Dodge being his first big auto client. At the Paris Motor Show in October 1924, Citroën introduced the Citroën B10, the first all-steel body in Europe. The cars were initially successful in the marketplace, but soon competitors (who were still using a wooden structure for their bodies) introduced new body designs. Citroën did not redesign the bodies of his cars. Citroëns still sold in large quantities in spite of not changing the body design, but the car's low price was the main selling point and Citroën experienced heavy losses.
In 1927, the bank Lazard helped Citroën by bringing new, much-needed funds as well as by renegotiating its debt—for example, by buying out the SOVAC. It went even further by entering in its capital and being represented at the board. The three directors sent by Lazard were Raymond Philippe, Andre Meyer, and Paul Frantzen.
André Citroën perceived the need to differentiate his product, to avoid the low price competition surrounding his conventional rear drive models in the late 1920's/early 1930's. In 1933, Citroën introduced the Rosalie, the first commercially available passenger car with a diesel engine, developed with Harry Ricardo.
The Traction Avant is a car that pioneered mass production of three revolutionary features that are still in use today: a unitary body with no separate frame, four wheel independent suspension, and front wheel drive. The vast majority of cars for many decades were similar in conception to the Ford Model T - a body bolted onto a ladder frame which held all the mechanical elements of the car, a solid rear axle that rigidly connected the rear wheels, and rear wheel drive. The Model T school of automobile engineering proved popular, because it was thought to be cheap to build, but it did pose dynamic defects as cars became more capable, and resulted in a heavier car, which is why cars today are more like the Traction Avant than the Model T under the skin.
Achieving quick development of the Traction Avant, tearing down and rebuilding the factory (in five months), and the extensive marketing efforts were investments that were too costly for Citroën to do all at once, causing the financial ruin of the company. In December 1934, despite the assistance of the Michelin company, Citroën filed for bankruptcy. Within the month, Michelin, already the car manufacturer's largest creditor, became its principal shareholder. Fortunately for Michelin, the technologically advanced Traction Avant met with market acceptance, and the basic philosophy of cutting edge technology used as a differentiator continued until the late 1990's. Pierre Michelin became the chairman of Citroën. Pierre-Jules Boulanger became the vice-president of Citroën and chief of the engineering and design department.
In 1935, founder André Citroën died from stomach cancer.
Pierre-Jules Boulanger had been a First World War air reconnaissance photography specialist with the French Air Force. He was capable and effective and finished the war having risen to the rank of captain. He was also courageous, having been decorated with the Military Cross and the Legion of Honour. He started working for Michelin in 1918, reporting directly to Édouard Michelin, co-director and founder of the business. Boulanger joined the Michelin board in 1922. He became president of Citroën in 1937 after the death of Édouard and kept his position until his death in 1950. In 1938, he also became Michelin's joint managing director.
During the German occupation of France in World War II Boulanger refused to meet Dr. Ferdinand Porsche or communicate with the German authorities except through intermediaries. He organized a "go slow" on production of trucks for the Wehrmacht, many of which were sabotaged at the factory, by putting the notch on the oil dipstick in the wrong place, resulting in engine seizure. In 1944 when the Gestapo headquarters in Paris was sacked by the French Resistance, his name was prominent on a Nazi blacklist of the most important "enemies of the Reich" to be arrested in the event of an allied invasion of France.
Citroën researchers continued their work in secret, against the express orders of the Germans, and developed the concepts that were later brought to market in three remarkable vehicles - a small car (2CV), a delivery van (Type H), and a large, swift family car (DS). These were widely regarded by contemporary journalists as avant garde, even radical, solutions to automotive design.
Citroën unveiled the 2CV—signifying two fiscal horsepower, initially only 12 hp (8.9 kW)—at the Paris Salon in 1948. The car became a bestseller, achieving the designer's aim of providing rural French people with a motorized alternative to the horse. This car remained in production, with only minor changes, until 1990 and was a common sight on French roads until recently. 8.8 Million 2CV variants were produced in the period 1948-1990.
1955 saw the introduction of the DS, the first full usage of Citroën's now legendary hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension system that was tested on the rear suspension of the last of the Tractions. The DS was the first European production car with disc brakes.
The DS featured power steering, power brakes, and power suspension, and—from 1968—directional headlights. A single high-pressure system was used to activate the steering and brakes, with pistons in the gearbox cover to shift the gears in the transmission and to operate the clutch on the Citromatic, Citroën's semi-automatic transmission.
The car was remarkable for its era, and had a remarkable sounding name - DS is prononuced DeeEss which in French means Goddess.
This high-pressure hydraulic system would form the basis of many Citroën cars, including the SM, GS, CX, BX, XM, Xantia, C5, and C6. These vehicles shared the distinguishing feature of rising to operating ride height when the engine was turned on, like a "mechanical camel" (per Car & Driver magazine). A lever beside the driver's seat allowed the driver to adjust the height of the car; this has now been replaced by an electronic switch. The height adjustability of the suspension allows for clearing obstacles, fording shallow (slow-moving) streams, and changing tires. The car would maintain a constant ride height regardless of passenger and cargo load, despite the very soft suspension. This type of suspension is uniquely able to absorb road irregularities without disturbing the occupants.
Citroën was undercapitalised, so its vehicles had a tendency to be underdeveloped at launch, with limited distribution and service networks. As a result, early DS models experienced teething issues with the novel suspension. The hydropneumatics were sorted out and became reliable.
For both the DS and CX models, development of the original engine around which the design was planned proved too expensive for the finances available, and the actual engine used in both cases was a modest and outdated four-cylinder design.
During Citroën's 1968-75 venture with Maserati, the Citroën high-pressure hydraulic system was used on several Maserati models, for power clutch operation (Bora), power pedal adjustment (Bora), pop-up headlights (Bora, Merak), brakes (Bora, Merak, Khamsin), steering (Khamsin), and the entire Quattroporte II prototype, which was a four-door Citroën SM under the skin.
Citroën was one of the early pioneers of the now widespread trend of aerodynamic automobile design, which helps to reduce fuel consumption and improve high-speed performance by reducing wind resistance. The cruising speed was the same as the top speed because of these efforts - the DS could happily run at 100 mph without disturbing the occupants. The firm began using a wind tunnel in the 1950s, enabling them to create highly streamlined cars such as the DS that were years ahead of their time. So good were the aerodynamics of the CX that it took its name from the term used to measure drag coeffient: .
In the 1960's, Citroën undertook a series of financial and development maneuvers, aiming to build on its strength in the 1950's with the successful, 2CV, Type H, and DS models. Since Citroën went bankrupt in 1974, the effectiveness of these maneuvers is not clear.
The maneuvers were to address two key gaps facing the company.
The first was the lack of a midsize car between its own range of very small, cheap cars (2CV/Ami) and large, expensive cars (DS/ID). In today's terms, this would be similar to a brand consisting only of the Tata Nano and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Because of the potential volume, the midsize segment was the most profitable part of the car market, and in 1965 the Citroënesque Renault 16 stepped in to address it.
The second large issue was the lack of a powerful engine suitable for export markets. The post-WW2 Tax horsepower system in France was steeply progressive, and vehicles over 2.0 (later 2.8) liters of engine displacement faced a heavy, annual tax. The result was that cars made in France were considered underpowered outside of France.
In 1963, Citroën negotiated with Peugeot to cooperate in the purchase of raw materials and equipment. Talks were broken off in 1965.
In 1964, Citroën partnered with NSU Motorenwerke to develop the Wankel engine via the Comobil (later Comotor) subsidiary. For Citroën, this represented the chance for a technological end run around the French Tax horsepower system - producing a more powerful car while maintaining a small engine. The first production car developed 106 hp with a 1 liter engine, while the standard GS delivered 55 hp with a 1 liter engine.
In 1965, Citroën took over the French carmaker Panhard in the hope of using Panhard's expertise in midsize cars. Cooperation between the two companies had begun 12 years earlier, and they had agreed to a partial merger of their sales networks in 1953. Panhard ceased making vehicles in 1967.
In 1968, Citroën purchased the Italian sports car maker Maserati, again with an eye to producing a more powerful car while maintaining a small engine in line with the French Tax horsepower system. The first production car developed 170 hp with a 2.7 liter engine.
This was the 1970 SM, which featured a V6 Maserati engine, Hydropneumatic suspension, and a fully powered, sell-centering steering system called DIRAVI. The SM was engineered as if it were replacing the DS family car, a level of investment the small luxury Grand Touring car sector alone would never be able to support, even in the best of circumstances.
The year 1968 also saw a restructuring of Citroën's worldwide operations under a new holding company, Citroën SA. Michelin, Citroën's longtime controlling shareholder, sold a 49% stake to Fiat in what was referred to as the PARDEVI agreement (Participation et Développement Industriels).
From a model range perspective, the 1970's started well for Citroën, supported by the successful launch of the long-awaited midsize Citroën GS, finally filling the huge gap between the 2CV and the DS - with a 1 liter, hydropneumatically suspended car. The GS went on to sell 2.5 million units. 601,918 cars were produced just in 1972, up from 526,443 in 1971, and enough to lift the company past Peugeot into second place among French auto-makers when ranked by volume of units.
Circumstances became more unfavorable for Citroën as the 1970s progressed.
In 1973, Fiat sold its 49% stake in the PARDEVI holding company (that owned Citroën) back to Michelin. The June 1973 Citroën and Fiat announcement indicated that benefits foreseen for their union in 1968 had failed to materialise. This was not in line with the tire company's long term strategy of ending involvements in the car manufacturing business, creating a very unstable ownership situation.
Citroën suffered a financial blow with the 1973 energy crisis. While some models sold well (peak production of the 2CV and it's derivatives was 1974), the bets on Comotor and Maserati both had what was now clearly a flaw - high fuel consumption engines.
In 1974, the carmaker withdrew from North America due to U.S. design regulations that outlawed core features of Citroën cars (see Citroën SM).
Huge losses at Citroën were caused by failure of the Comotor rotary engine venture, plus the strategic error of going the 15 years from 1955 to 1970 without a model in the profitable middle range of the European market, and the massive development costs for the GS, GS Birotor, CX, SM, Maserati Bora, Maserati Merak, Maserati Quattroporte II, and Maserati Khamsin models— each a technological marvel in its own right.
The French government feared large job losses, due to the poor cash flow situation at Citroën and the unstable ownership structure. It arranged talks between Michelin and Citroën and decided to merge Automobiles Citroën and Automobiles Peugeot into a single company. A year after the break with Fiat, on 24 June 1974, Citroën announced their new partnership, this time with Peugeot. Michelin agreed to transfer control of the business to Peugeot.
In December 1974 Peugeot S.A. acquired a 38.2% share of Citroën. On 9 April 1976 they increased their stake of the then bankrupt company to 89.95%, thus creating the PSA Group (where PSA is short for Peugeot Société Anonyme), becoming PSA Peugeot Citroën.
Citroën sold off Maserati to De Tomaso in May 1975, and the Italian firm was able to exploit the sales potential of the models developed by Citroën, as well as exploit the image of the Maserati brand in a downward brand extension to sell tens of thousands of newly designed Bi-Turbo models. Berliet was sold to Renault.
The PSA venture was a financial success from 1976 to 1979. Citroën had two successful new designs in the market at this time (the GS and CX), a resurgent Citroën 2CV, and the Citroën Dyane in the wake of the oil crisis, and Peugeot was typically prudent in its own finances, launching the Peugeot 104 based Citroën Visa and Citroën LNA. PSA then purchased the aging assets of Chrysler Europe, which it rebranded as Talbot, leading to losses from 1980 to 1985.
In the early 1980s Citroën was targeted by union action. Events led to a mass demonstration in the streets of Paris on 25 May 1982. Approximately 27,000 Citroën workers demonstrated in affirmation of their wish to work at a company which was being picketed by striking workers who had been blocking access to the factories for four weeks. The demonstrations were successful and six days later work at the plants resumed. Jacques Lombard, one of the company’s senior managers, had gone public with his concerns criticising the strikes.
PSA gradually diluted Citroën's ambitious attitude to engineering and styling in an effort to rebrand the marque to appeal to a wider market. In the 1980s, Citroën models became increasingly Peugeot-based, following the worldwide motor industry trend called "platform sharing." The 1982 BX used the hydropneumatic suspension system and still had a Citroën-esque appearance, while being powered by Peugeot-derived engines and using the floorpan later seen on the Peugeot 405. By the late 1980s, many of the distinctive features of the marque had been removed or diluted—conventional Peugeot's switchgear replaced Citroën's quirky but ergonomic "Lunule" designs, complete with self-cancelling indicators that Citroën had previously refused to adopt on ergonomic grounds. While the cars were more banal, sales continued steadily.
Citroën expanded into many new geographic markets. In the late 1970s, the firm developed a small car for production in Romania known as the Oltcit, which it sold in Western Europe as the Citroën Axel. That joint venture has ended, but a new one between PSA and Toyota is now producing cars like the Citroën C1 in the Czech Republic.
In China, Citroën began selling cars in 1984 and currently builds a range of family cars that includes the C3 and Xsara and locally designed cars like the Fukang and Elysée models. Citroën is a global brand except in North America, where the company has not returned since the SM was effectively banned in 1974 for not meeting U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) bumper height regulations.
From 2003-10, Citroën produced the C3 Pluriel, an unusual convertible with allusions to the 1948-90 2CV model, both in body style (such as the bonnet) and in its all-round practicality.
In 2001, Citroën acknowledged its history of innovation when it opened a museum of its many significant vehicles - the 'Conservatoire,' with 300 cars.
With the severe decline in European auto sales after 2009, worldwide sales of vehicles declined from 1,460,373 in 2010 to 1,435,688 in 2011, with 961,156 of these sold in Europe.
Dongfeng Peugeot-Citroën continues growing rapidly, and ranks highest in the 2014 customer satisfaction survey by JD Power in China, above luxury brands like Mercedes and BMW, and above mass market brands like Volkswagen ranking only thirteenth and seventeenth. On the 10 first months of 2014 in China, the sales of Donfeng Citroen cars increased by 30% in an overall market growth of 11%. The launch of the Citroën C3-XR in december 2014 will enable Citroën to continue its growth in 2015.
Citroën announced in early 2009 the development of a premium sub-brand DS, for Different Spirit or Distinctive Series (although the reference to the historical Citroën DS is evident), to run in parallel to its mainstream cars. This new series of cars started with the Citroën DS3 in early 2010, a small car based on the floor plan of the new C3. The DS3 is customisable with various roof colours that can contrast with the body panels. The Citroën DS3 was named 2010 Car of the Year by Top Gear Magazine, awarded first supermini four times in a row by the JD Power Satisfaction Survey UK and second most efficient supermini (Citroën DS3 1.6 e-HDi 115 Airdream : True MPG 63.0mpg) by What car ? behind the Citroën C3. In 2013, the Citroën DS3 was again the most sold premium subcompact car with 40% of these market shares in Europe, validating this product development.
Their rear badge is a new DS logo rather than the familiar Citroën double chevron, and all will have markedly different styling from their equivalent sister car. Citroën have produced several dramatic-looking concept sports cars of late with the fully working Citroën Survolt being badged as a DS, hinting at current sub-brands future intentions.
Citroën has produced three Car of the Year award winners in Ireland since 1978. It is awarded by the Irish Motoring Writers Association (IMWA).
Citroën has produced height Auto Europa winners in 28 years, since 1987. 'Auto Europa' is the prize awarded by the jury of the Italian Union of Automotive Journalists (UIGA), which annually celebrates the best car produced at least at 10 000 units in the 27 countries of the European Union, and sold between September and August the previous year.
Citroën has produced nine Car of the year winners in Spain in 40 years, since 1974.
(*) : in 1994, the Renault Twingo was elected winner ex aequo
Citroën Racing, previously known as Citroën Sport and before that as Citroën Competitions, is the team responsible for Citroën's sporting activities. It is a successful winning competitor in the World Rally Championship and in the World Touring Car Championship.
Citroën vehicles were entered in endurance rally driving events beginning in 1956, with the introduction of the DS. The brand was successful and won many key events over a decades long period, with what was essentially the same production car design.
The Citroën Competitions division was impacted negatively by the firm's 1974 bankruptcy.
Competitive rallying was also changing - away from standard production cars to specially developed low volume models. In response to the entry of the 4 wheel drive Audi Quattro into production car rallying, Citroën developed the heavily modified Group B Citroën BX 4TC in 1986.
The team returned successfully with the Citroën ZX Rally Raid to win the Rally Raid Manufacturer's Championship five times (1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, and 1997) with Pierre Lartigue and Ari Vatanen. Citroën Racing won the Dakar Rally four times, in 1991, continuing the serial of four victories of Peugeot sport, and then again in 1994, 1995, and 1996.
From 2001, the Citroën Racing team returned successfully to the World Rally Championship, winning height times the Manufacturer's Title, continuing the serial of three WRC Championships victories of Peugeot sport, in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. The Citroën WRC Team pilot Sébastien Loeb also won nine Drivers' Championship. In 2004, 2005, and 2006, the French pilot won the Drivers' Championship, driving the Citroën Xsara WRC, in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 with the Citroën C4 WRC, and in 2011 and 2012 with the new Citroën DS3 WRC.
The Citroën World Rally Team has a record of 97 victories World Rally Championship.
In 2013, Citroën Racing created a new sub-division, the Citroën World Touring Car Team, in order to attempt the 2014 World Touring Car Championship. The name Citroën C-Elysée WTCC has been chosen for the race car running in this world competition. It was developed in a few months, thanks to the experience of the Citroën World Rally Team. Citroën revealed a thirty minutes film on its Internet channel, to show the different steps to the C-Elysée project development : Projet M43 WTCC, Citroën WTCC 2014.
The Citroën World Touring Car Team won fourteen victories out of the fifteen first races of the 2014 WTCC season, in spite of the handicap of the 60 kg Compensation Weight put to the leading cars. The Citroën/Total WTCC Team won the Manufacturer's WTCC Championship, 5 races before the end of the season, after the 2014 Shanghai race, where Citroën won first, second, third and fourth place, and recorded the fastest lap time. The Citroën World Touring Car Team pilots also got the three first ranks of the Drivers' World Touring Car Championship.
The origin of the logo may be traced back to a trip made by the 22-year-old André Citroën to Łódź city, Poland, where he discovered an innovative design for a chevron-shaped gear used in milling. He bought the patent for its application in steel. Mechanically a gear with helical teeth produces an axial force. By adding a second helical gear in opposition, this force is cancelled. The two chevrons of the logo represent the intermeshing contact of the two.
The presentation of the logo has evolved over time. Before the war, it was rendered in yellow on a blue background. After the war, the chevrons became more subtle herringbones, usually on a white background. With the company searching for a new image during the 1980s, the logo became white on red to give an impression of dynamism, emphasized by publicity slogan.
In February 2009 Citroën launched a new brand identity to celebrate its 90th anniversary, replacing the 1985 design. The new logo was designed by Landor Associates — a 3D metallic variation of the double chevron logo accompanied by a new font for the Citroën name and the new slogan "Créative Technologie". A TV campaign reminiscing over 90 years of Citroën was commissioned to announce the new identity to the public. The new look is currently being rolled out to dealers globally and is expected to take three to five years.
Some joint venture models are manufactured in third party or joint venture factories, including:
Citroën C5 II
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