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The French company Citroën was founded in 1900, originally with a focus on the production of cogwheels. Still today, the double angle reminds of its origins. In the course of the First World War, André Citroën, the name giver and founder of the company, started with war production. The subsequent good financial situation in 1919 formed the stabile basis for the company's entry into automotive production.
In 1919 the Citroën Type A rolled off the production line. It was the first car from Europe that was produced in large series. Even the equipment was a novelty: There was a spare wheel, an electric starter and different light. Through the introduction of a total of 165 000 road signs with the subtitle "Founded by Citroën", the company ensured its presence on the streets of France even more. In the same year, the first leasing car from Citroën found the basis for a business model, that was about to be implemented in the market in the future.
The second model, the B2 was slightly modified, so that André Citroën was able to cross the Sahara in 1922. Other important expeditions such as the Croisière Noire in 1924 and the Croisière Jaune 1931 followed, which the founder Citroën successfully participated in with half-chained vehicles.
The Traction Avant, which means front-wheel drive, was the first car of Citroën in 1934 with self-supporting all-steel body and front-wheel drive. But innovation has its price. Since the car was costly to manufacture, Citroën got into financial trouble. The Michelin brothers had taken over the company in the same year and thus saved Citroën from bankruptcy.
The design of the Tranction Avant by the designer André Lefèbvre and designer Flaminio Bertoni set standards for subsequent models, which were about to be produced in large series later.
Under their direction, one series was developed, which became automotive classics. After the Tranction Avant 1934, the Citroën 2CV in 1949, known as the “Duck” (“Ente”) and in 1955 the Citroën DS, sometimes simply called the DS, La Déesse or “the Goddess” were presented.
After the production of war materials in the Second World War, the existing models were further developed. The H type van was released in 1948 and was one of the most widespread delivery vans in France until production ceased in 1981.
The D-Series also relied on pre-war models. In 1955, not only the design, but also the multitude of technical innovations contributed to the success of the DS. The hydropneumatics suspension for instance was new. The car was inspiring due to an improved equipment with servo steering, hydraulic brake booster and curve light.
In 1975 the competitor Peugeot took over. Subsequently, the PSA group fused. Since then, a common model policy of independent brands has been pursued. Out of the common development emerged models such as 1976 the LN and 1978 the Visa, which were also produced as Peugeot model 104.
Old classics were also reissued. The Charleston from 1980 was an exceedingly successful new edition of the famous duck, which was produced until 1990, but can still be found on the road.
The C1 segment and the small electric car Citroën C-Zero, which is identical with the Peugeot 108 and the Mitsubishi i, are now part of the small-car segment. The C3 small car is the successor of the Saxo in its latest edition from 2017. Since 2010, the Mini DS3, a small car of the sub-brand DS, has been joined by five models to commemorate the 1955 DS.
The compact class currently consists of the C-Elysée, the C4, which is also offered as SUV as C4 Aircross. In the middle class there are the C5 and the DS5. The DS4 Crossback is almost an SUV.
In the area of vans, the brand is quite diversified. Both the C4 Picasso, which is also offered as Grand C4 Picasso, as well as the Minivan C3 Picasso and since 2016 the Spacetourer and Spacetourer Business are part of the product range. The box van Berlingo Multispace is also sold as a van for families. In the upper middle-class one can find an estate car, the C5 Tourer, the successor of the C6 and XM.
The SUV section includes the electric convertible E-MEHARI and the C4 Cactus. The utility van Jumper estate car is a developed version of the C25 and identical with the Fiat Ducato.
In 1963 the company founded its motorsports department and since then has been one of the most successful brands ever. Numerous rally victories and World Championship titles could be won by Citroën. Only from 2003 to 2012, Citroën secured 8 manufacturer's titles in the rally world championship.