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2cv Cross 2013 Essay Contest

JAX® Mice, Products & Services Conditions of Use

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"Créative Technologie"

Type

Marque[1]
IndustryAutomotive
Founded1919; 99 years ago (1919)
FounderAndré Citroën
HeadquartersSaint-Ouen[2], France

Area served

Worldwide, except United States, Canada, Mexico, and South Asia

Key people

Linda Jackson, Director
ProductsAutomobiles, Commercial Vehicles, Luxury Cars, Sports Cars
ServicesCitroën Insurance

Number of employees

13,900[3]
ParentGroupe PSA
Websitewww.citroen.com

Citroën (French pronunciation: ​[si.tʁɔ.ˈɛn]) is a major French automobile manufacturer, part of the PSA Peugeot Citroën group since 1976, founded in 1919 by French industrialist André-Gustave Citroën (1878–1935). In 1934, the firm established its reputation for innovative technology with the Traction Avant.[4] This car was the world's first mass-produced front wheel drive car, but also one of the first to feature a unitary type body, with no chassis holding the mechanical components.[5] In 2009, the company celebrated its 90th anniversary with a celebration on the 3rd of October.[6]

In 1954 they had produced the world's first hydropneumaticself-levelling suspension system[7] then, in 1955, the revolutionary DS, the first mass production car with modern disc brakes[8] and, in 1967, they introduced in several of their models swiveling headlights that allowed for greater visibility on winding roads; these automobiles have received various international and national level awards, including three European Car of the Year.

With a successful history in motorsport, it is the only automobile manufacturer to have won three different official championships from the International Automobile Federation: the World Rally Raid Championship five times,[9] the World Rally Championship eight times[9] and the World Touring Car Championship. Citroën has been selling vehicles in China since 1984 largely via the Dongfeng Peugeot-Citroën joint venture, which today represents a major market for the brand. In 2014, when PSA Peugeot Citroën ran into severe financial difficulties, the Dongfeng Motor Corporation took an ownership stake.

History[edit]

Early years[edit]

André Citroën built armaments for France during World War I; after the war however, he realized that, unless he planned ahead he would have a modern factory without a product.[10] There was nothing automatic about his decision to become an automobile manufacturer once the war was over: the automotive business was one that Citroën knew well, thanks to a successful six-year stint working with Mors between 1908 and the outbreak of war.[10] The decision to switch to automobile manufacturing was evidently taken as early as 1916, which is the year 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 returned.[10] 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.[10] 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.[10] 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.[10]

The result was the Type A, announced to the press in March 1919, just four months after the guns fell silent.[10] The first production Type A emerged from the factory at the end of May 1919 and in June it was exhibited at a show room at Number 42, on the Champs-Élysées in Paris which normally sold Alda cars.[10] Citroën persuaded the owner of the Alda business, Fernand Charron, to lend him the show-room, which is still in use today. This C42 showroom is where the company organises exhibitions and shows its vehicles and concept cars. A few years later, Charron would be persuaded to become a major investor in the Citroën business.[10] On the 7th of July 1919, the first customer took delivery of a new Citroën 10HP Type A.[10]

That same year, André Citroën briefly negotiated with General Motors a proposed sale of the Citroën company.[11] The deal nearly closed, but General Motors ultimately decided that its management and capital would be too overstretched by the takeover.[11] thus Citroën remained independent till 1935.

Between 1921 and 1937, Citroën produced half-track vehicles for off-road and military uses, using the Kégresse track system. In the 1920s, the U.S. Army purchased several Citroën-Kégresse vehicles for evaluation followed by a licence to produce them. This resulted in the Army Ordnance Department building a prototype in 1939. In December 1942, it went into production with the M2 Half Track Car and M3 Half-track versions.[12] The U.S. eventually produced more than 41,000 vehicles in over 70 versions between 1940 and 1944. After their 1940 occupation of France, the Nazi's captured many of the Citroën half-track vehicles and armored them for their own use.[12]

Mr Citroën was a keen marketer: he used the Eiffel Tower as the world's largest advertising sign, as recorded in Guinness World Records.[13] He also sponsored expeditions in Asia (Croisière Jaune), North America (Croisière Blanche) and Africa (Croisière Noire), demonstrating the potential for motor vehicles equipped with the Kégresse track system to cross inhospitable regions. These expeditions conveyed scientists and journalists.[14]

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. This vehicle is now fully restored and in the collection of the National Museum of Australia.[15] In 1924, Citroën began a business relationship with the 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.[16] These automobiles were initially successful in the marketplace, but soon competitors ( who were still using a wooden structure for their vehicles ) introduced new body designs. Citroën who did not redesign the bodies of his cars, still sold in large quantities nonetheless, the cars' low price being the main selling point, which factor however caused Citroën to experience heavy losses.[citation needed]

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 on 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 1920s/early 1930s. In 1933 he introduced the Rosalie, the first commercially available passenger car with a diesel engine, developed with Harry Ricardo.

Traction Avant and Michelin ownership[edit]

Traction Avant[edit]

The Traction Avant is a car that pioneered the 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. Whereas for many decades, the vast majority of motor cars 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 considered cheap to build, although it did pose dynamic defects as automobiles were becoming more capable, and resulted in heavier cars, which is why today cars are more like the Traction Avant than the Model T under the skin. In 1934 Citroën commissioned the American Budd Company to create a prototype, which evolved into the 7 fiscal horsepower (CV), 32 hp (24 kW) Traction Avant.

Achieving quick development of the Traction Avant, tearing down and rebuilding the factory (in five months) and the extensive marketing efforts, were investments that resulted 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.[17] Fortunately for Michelin, the technologically advanced Traction Avant had met with market acceptance, and the basic philosophy of cutting edge technology used as a differentiator, continued until the late 1990s. Pierre Michelin became the chairman of Citroën early in 1935. Pierre-Jules Boulanger, his deputy, became the vice-president and chief of the engineering and design departments. In 1935, the founder André Citroën died from stomach cancer.[18]

Research breakthroughs[edit]

Pierre-Jules Boulanger had been a First World War air reconnaissance photography specialist with the French Air Force; he was capable and efficient and finished the war with 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 and became president of Citroën in January 1938 after the death in a road accident his friend Pierre Michelin[19] remaining in this position until his own death in 1950. In 1938, he also had become Michelin's joint managing director.[20]

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, which resulted 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.[21]

Citroën researchers, including Paul Magès, 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. Thus began a decades' long period of unusual brand loyalty, normally seen in the automobile industry only in niche brands, like Porsche and Ferrari.

The Deux Chevaux[edit]

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. It was unusually inexpensive to purchase and, with its tiny two cylinder engine, inexpensive to run as well. The 2CV pioneered a very soft, interconnected suspension, but did not have the more complex self-levelling feature. 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.[22]

The Goddess[edit]

1955 saw the introduction of the DS, the first full usage of Citroën's hydropneumaticself-levelling suspension system, tested on the rear suspension of the Traction in 1954, which was also the first production car with modern disc brakes. A single high-pressure hydraulic system was used to activate the power steering, the suspension and brakes, the brakes were power assisted to multiply the force applied by the driver. On the Citromatic (semi-automatic transmission) version, the system also operated the clutch, through a system of pistons in the gearbox cover to shift the gears in the transmission. From 1968, the DS also introduced directional headlights, that moved with the steering, improving visibility at night. The streamlined car was remarkable for its era and had a remarkable sounding name – in French, DS is pronounced [de.ɛs], which sounds the same as déesse, which means Goddess.[23] It placed third in the 1999 Car of the Century competition.

High pressure hydraulics[edit]

This high-pressure hydraulic system would form the basis of over 9 million Citroën cars, including the DS, SM, GS, CX, BX, XM, Xantia, C5, and C6. Self-levelling suspension is the principal user benefit: the car maintains a constant ride height above the road, regardless of passenger and cargo load and despite the very soft suspension. Hydropneumatic suspension is uniquely able to absorb road irregularities without disturbing the occupants[24] and is often compared to riding on a magic carpet for this reason.[25] 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 ( later replaced by an electronic switch ) beside the driver's seat allowed the driver to adjust the height of the car; this height adjustability allows for the clearing of obstacles, fording shallow (slow-moving) streams and changing tires.

Since Citroën was undercapitalised, its vehicles had the tendency to be underdeveloped at launch, with limited distribution and service networks outside France, consequently the early DS models experienced teething issues with the novel suspension but, eventually,[24] the hydropneumatics were sorted out and became reliable.[26] Licensing such a technological leap forward was pursued to a limited extent: in 1965 the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow did include this suspension, while the 1963 Mercedes-Benz 600 and Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3 tried to replicate its advantages with a costly, complex and expensive to maintain, air suspension, that avoided the Citroën patented technology.[27] By 1975, the Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 could finally be produced with this proven system and Mercedes-Benz continues to offer variations on this technology today. During Citroën's 1968–1975 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.[28]

Aerodynamic pioneer[edit]

Citroën was one of the early pioneers of the now widespread trend of aerodynamic automobile design, which helps to reduce fuel consumption and to improve high-speed performance, by reducing wind resistance. The cruising speed being the same as the top speed because of these efforts, the DS could happily run at 160 km/h (100 mph) without any discomfort for the occupants.[29] 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, and so good were the aerodynamics of the CX model, that it took its name - - from the mathematical term used to measure the drag coefficient.

Expansion and financial challenges[edit]

In the 1960s, Citroën undertook a series of financial and development tactics, aiming to build on its strength of the 1950s with the successful 2CV, Type H, and DS models. Citroën went bankrupt in 1974, so the effectiveness of these maneuvers is rather doubtful.

These maneuvers were to address two key gaps facing the company:

  • The first one was the lack of a midsize car, between its own range of very small, cheap passenger vehicles ( 2CV/Ami ) and the large, expensive models ( DS/ID ).[28] In today's terms, this would be similar to a brand consisting only of the Tata Nano and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Because of its potential volume, the midsize segment was the most profitable part of the car market and, in 1965, the CitroënesqueRenault 16 stepped in to fill it.
  • The second major 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, with the result that cars made in France were considered underpowered outside.[30] For both the 1955 DS and 1974 CX models, development of the original engine around which the design was planned proved too expensive for the available finances, so the actual engine used in both cases was a modest and outdated four-cylinder design.[31]

These steps include:

  • 1963 - opened negotiations with Peugeot to cooperate in the purchase of raw materials and equipment, but talks broke off in 1965.
  • 1964 - partnered with NSU Motorenwerke to develop the Wankel engine via the Comobil (later Comotor) subsidiary. For Citroën, this represented the chance for a technological run around the French Tax horsepower system by producing a more powerful but still small power plant. The first production car developed 106 hp with a 1-liter engine,[32] while the standard GS delivered 55 hp with a 1-liter engine.[33]
  • 1965 - took over the French maker Panhard in the hope of using its expertise in mid sized cars; cooperation between the two companies had begun twelve years earlier and they had agreed to a partial merger of their sales networks in 1953; Panhard ceased manufacturing in 1967.[28]
  • 1965 - purchased the truck manufacturer Berliet.[28]
  • 1968 - purchased the Italiansports carmakerMaserati again with an eye to producing a more powerful car, keeping a small engine in line with the French tax horsepower system.[30] The first production vehicle developed 170 hp with a 2.7 litre engine.,[34] this was the 1970 SM, which featured a V6 Maserati power plant, hydropneumatic suspension and a fully powered, self-centering steering system called DIRAVI; the SM was engineered as if it were replacing the DS family car, a level of investment that the small luxury Grand Touring car sector alone would never be able to support, even in the best of circumstances.
  • 1968 - restructured 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).[28]

The teams of Charles Marchetti and Citroën began working together on the development of the RE-2 (fr)helicopter.

From a model range perspective, the 1970s started well, 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 the 526,443 of 1971 - enough to lift the company past Peugeot into second place among French auto makers when ranked by volume of units.[35] The older models continued to sell well - the peak production period of the DS was 1970, and 2CV was in 1974.

As the 1970s progressed, circumstances became more unfavorable. In 1973, Fiat sold back to Michelin its 49% stake in the PARDEVI holding company that owned Citroën, the Citroën and Fiat joint announcement indicated that the benefits foreseen for their union in 1968 had failed to materialise.[36] This was not in line with the tire company's long term strategy of ending involvements in the car manufacturing business and created a very unstable ownership situation.[37] The company suffered another financial blow with the 1973 energy crisis - the gamble on Comotor and Maserati showed that there was a serious flaw with both: engines with high fuel consumption.

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 the failure of the Comotor rotary engine venture added to the strategic management error of going the 7008473364000000000♠15 years from 1955 to 1970 without a model in the profitable middle range of the European market, plus the massive development costs a string of new models: the GS, GS Birotor, CX, SM, Maserati Bora, Maserati Merak, Maserati Quattroporte II, and Maserati Khamsin. Each of these models is a technological marvel in its own right. Thus, forty years after the bankruptcy related to the Traction Avant, Citroën went bankrupt again, losing its existence as an independent entity; selling Berliet and Maserati and closing Comotor.[28]

The PSA Peugeot Citroën era[edit]

The French Government fearing large job losses due to the poor cash flow situation and the unstable ownership structure, arranged talks between Citroën and Michelin deciding to merge Automobiles Citroën and Automobiles Peugeot into a single company therefore, one year after the break with Fiat, on 24 June 1974, Citroën announced the new partnership, this time with Peugeot.[36] to whom Michelin agreed to transfer control of the business.[28] In December 1974 Peugeot S.A. acquired a 38.2% share of Citroën and on 9 April 1976[38] 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.[39] In May 1975 Maserati was sold to De Tomaso and the new Italian owner was thereby able to exploit the sales potential of the models and technology developed by Citroën, as well as to utilize the image of the Maserati brand in a downward brand extension to sell 40,000 of the newly designed Bi-Turbo models. The truck manufacturing company Berliet was sold to Renault.[28]

This new PSA venture was a financial success from 1976 to 1979. Citroën had two successful new designs in the market, the GS and CX. In the wake of the oil crisis, the brand also had resurgent sales for the 2CV and the Dyane, and soon the Peugeot 104 based Citroën Visa and Citroën LNA. Peugeot was typically prudent with its own finances. Then, PSA purchased the ageing assets and substantial liabilities of Chrysler Europe for $1, leading to losses from 1980 to 1985. PSA resurrected the Talbot name for the Chrysler cars, but it shriveled and then died in 1987.

Problems with the Trade unions[edit]

In the early 1980s, Citroën was targeted by union action.[40] On the 25th of May 1982, events led to a mass demonstration in the streets of Paris,[40] when approximately 27,000 workers affirmed 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.[40] The demonstration was 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.[40]

Taming the innovative spirit[edit]

PSA gradually diluted Citroën's ambitious, highly individualistic and distinctive, approach to engineering and styling. All through the 1980s, Citroën models became increasingly Peugeot-like. The 1982 BX used the hydropneumatic suspension system and had a typical Citroënesque appearance, while being powered by Peugeot derived engines and using the floorpan later seen on the Peugeot 405. PSA followed the worldwide motor industry trend of platform sharing. By the late 1980s, many of the distinctive features of the brand had been removed or altered - the conventional Peugeot's switchgear replacing Citroën's quirky but ergonomic Lunule designs,[41] complete with self-cancelling indicators that Citroën had refused to adopt on ergonomic grounds. The cars were more banal and conventional,[37] but also able to break into new markets, like fleet vehicles in the UK.[42]

Geographical expansion[edit]

Meantime 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 now ended, but a new one between PSA and Toyota is now producing cars like the Citroën C1 in the Czech Republic. In China, today a major overseas market, it began selling cars in 1984[43] and building them in 1994.[44] The current range of family cars over there, includes the C3 and Xsara and locally designed cars like the Fukang and Elysée models. The brand has recently increased its Chinese sales by 30% - in an overall market growth of 11% -[45] and ranks highest in the 2014 customer satisfaction survey by JD Power in China.[46] It 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. In 2016, Peugeot-Citroën South Africa (PCSA) announced that Citroën would be pulling out of South Africa given the poor sales in that country; Citroën had returned there in 2001.[47][48]

The recent decade[edit]

From 2003–2010, Citroën produced the C3 Pluriel, an unusual convertible with allusions to the 1948–1990 2CV model, both in body style (such as the bonnet) and in its all-round practicality. In 2001 it celebrated its history of innovation when it opened a museum of its many significant vehicles: the Conservatoire with 300 cars.[49] 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.[50]

In 2011 the Groupe PSA was close to forming a partnership with BMW for the development of electric and hybrid vehicles between BMW and all of the PSA brands, but the talks fell through, shortly after Groupe PSA, Citroën's parent company, had announced a partnership with GM, which later failed happen. Dongfeng Peugeot-Citroën continues growing, and has developed eight car designs exclusively for the China market.[44] Currently in China, Citroën (and Peugeot) face the same challenge as Volkswagen: there are too many sedans and hatchbacks, without enough models in the strong selling SUV and minivan/MPV categories.[44]

The brand ranked highest in the 2014 customer satisfaction survey by JD Power in China, above luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz and BMW, and above mass market brands, like Volkswagen, ranking only thirteenth and seventeenth respectively.[46] On the first ten months of 2014 in China, the sales of Donfeng Citroën cars increased by 30% in an overall market growth of 11%.[45] Despite the near death financial experience of PSA Peugeot Citroën in 2014, and financial rescue by Dongfeng Motors,[51] the Citroën and DS brands are developing new technologies and are both planning to grow 15% by 2020, according to Citroën CEO Linda Jackson and DS CEO Yves Bonnefont.[52] Since 2013, the model Carolina "Pampita" Ardohaín represents Citroën and its lifestyle in some fashion films.[53][54]

The DS brand[edit]

Main article: DS Automobiles

Share of the S. A. André Citroën, issued 30. September 1927
1940s Citroën Traction Avant in Vaxholm, Sweden 2012
The Eiffel Tower served as a billboard for Citroën from 1925 to 1934.

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