After over a century of vehicle manufacturing, Peugeot has produced its 40 millionth vehicle.
Peugeot, one of the great innovators in the history of the automobile, began by producing just a handful of cars per year. Today, the company’s 24 production facilities across the globe assemble around 8,600 units per day.
Peugeot production began in France in 1889 and it was 11 years before the 1000th car was driven off the line in 1900. The 100,000th vehicle appeared in 1925, built at the legendary plant in Sochaux in eastern France.
In the 1930s, the 201 became the first Peugeot to use the marque’s distinctive three-digit naming system, and was the world’s first car to have independent front suspension. The 1930s also saw the birth of the 401 Eclipse, which featured yet another first in the world of vehicle manufacturing: a folding metal roof. The legacy of this innovation can be seen today on the stylish 206 and 307 Coupé Cabriolets.
The one millionth Peugeot was built in 1952, and only seven years later, in 1959, the birth of the two millionth vehicle was celebrated.
In 1960, with the launch of the stylish 404 – designed by the renowned Pininfarina – Peugeot rejuvenated its image. The 504 was shown for the first time at the Paris Motor Show in 1968, voted ‘Car of the Year 1969’, and became a world beater in sales terms too, with over 3.6 million built in various forms: saloon, estate, coupé and cabriolet.
The Peugeot 604 was the first European car with a turbo diesel engine, introduced just before the arrival of the 10 millionth Peugeot, built in 1976.
Another 10 million vehicles had been produced by 1988, largely thanks to the phenomenal success of the 205 and the 405 – ‘Car of the Year 1988’.
Consistent sales growth brought Peugeot an ever-larger share of the international new vehicle market, and the period from 1997 to 2002 saw a rise in sales volumes of 62%. In 2001 and 2002, the 206 was the best selling vehicle in Europe, and its high-powered motorsport sibling, the 206 WRC, took consecutive titles in the World Rally Championship in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
Today there are over 10,000 sales outlets worldwide, with the sale of 1,950,000 Peugeots in 2002 (25% of this volume achieved outside of Europe). The company continues its innovative approach to all things automotive – Peugeot was the first vehicle manufacturer to fit as standard on a range of its products a FAP particulate filter, which is available on the 307, 406, 607 and 807.
The 307 was crowned ‘Car of the Year 2002’, as well as recently scooping the BBC Top Gear Magazine Awards ‘Best Compact Car’ and ‘Best Family Car’ for its hatch and SW models respectively. The model has already found over 800,000 buyers since its international launch in mid-2001 and later this year the 307 will be available in the eagerly awaited seductive Coupé Cabriolet guise.Published 15 March 2003