Discover the history of Peugeot with our timeline below, from the unveiling of our very first motor vehicle to our record breaking vehicles, right up to the launch of our innovative concept vehicles. Take a look at Peugeot’s heritage.
The beginning of 200 years of innovation
Considered by most to be the Father of Peugeot, Jean-Pierre Peugeot was born in 1734 and over the course of his life, made many forays into industry with a weaving business, a dye works, an oil mill and a grain mill.
But it was in 1810 that the Peugeot family business began to put down its engineering roots when Jean-Pierre’s two sons, Jean-Pierre II and Jean-Frédéric, founded Peugeot Frères.
They transformed their father’s old grain mill into a steel foundry and turned their engineering skills to a wide range of steel products, making everything from coffee grinders and springs to saws and umbrella frames.
The spirit of innovation had been born…
The unveiling of Peugeot's first motor vehicle
Armand Peugeot, grandson of Jean-Pierre, who was fascinated by anything mechanical, led the company in its quest to produce its first motorised vehicle. In 1889, as a result of a collaboration with steam specialist Léon Serpollet, he succeeded. The vehicle was the Serpollet-Peugeot – a steam-powered three-wheeler.
By the following year, Armand had abandoned steam in favour of petrol, and had built Peugeot’s first four-wheeled, petrol-driven vehicle – the Type 2 quadricycle with a Daimler engine.
Building partnerships with other industry specialists is something Peugeot has continued to do over the years, leading to collaborations with the likes of Ford and BMW, and the development of some unique engines.
A new numbering system for the mass market
In 1929 Peugeot unveiled its first mass-produced car – the 201. This was the first Peugeot to use the now-iconic numbering system of three digits with a zero in the middle, and marked Peugeot’s passage from small-scale business to mass producer.
The 201 proved to be a roaring success and was the catalyst for the first Peugeot range, with the 301 launching in 1932, and the 401 and 601 in 1934.
This numbering tradition still continues today, with the range of new Peugeots including several descendants of the 201 – the 208, the 308 and the 508.
Launch of a Peugeot scooter
Ever since the creation of the first Peugeot bicycle, the Grand Bi penny-farthing in 1882, Peugeot has had a reputation for innovative bikes. And in 1953, the two-wheeled theme was developed further with the creation of Peugeot’s first scooter, the S55.
Peugeot Scooters, still going strong today, is the oldest manufacturer of motorised two-wheeled vehicles in the world.
It has been responsible for many innovations over the decades, including the 80cc SC/SX, the first scooter with plastic bodywork in 1982, the pioneering electric scooter, the Scoot’Elec in 1995 and the first scooter with ABS brakes, the Elystar, in 2002, amongst others.
An icon is born
Peugeot’s interest in mass-market coupés and cabriolets was sparked in 1934 by the success of the Eclipse 401 and 601. Both of these models featured a retractable metal roof designed by automobile designer and hero of the French resistance, Georges Paulin.
But it was in 1962 that the Peugeot coupe-cabriolet tradition really took off, with the launch of the beautiful 404 Cabriolet, designed by Pininfarina.
This 60s icon still remains a collector’s favourite, and was a worthy forerunner to the stylish coupés of today, such as the 308 CC and the stunning RCZ.
A record-breaking Tour de France
In 1977, Peugeot won its tenth Tour de France with Bernard Thévenet in the saddle. This record number of victories remains unbeaten to this day. Thévenet’s ride confirmed Peugeot’s place in the cycling hall of fame, which was reserved in 1904 by Louis Trousselier with his first legendary Tour de France win for Peugeot.
In honour of the beautiful racing bikes resulting from these pioneering days, Peugeot Bikes launched its Legend range in 2011 which features modernised versions of the winning Tour de France bikes.
Peugeot still puts bicycles at the heart of its plans for environmentally-friendly travel, and while bikes such as the electrically-assisted E-bike and the new, urban Allure may take inspiration from the past, they most definitely represent the future.
Another record-breaker is born
In 1983, Peugeot launched the now ubiquitous 205, followed in 1984 by the much-loved 205 GTi. The arrival of the 205 marked the start of Peugeot’s success story in the small car market, and the rally version, the 205 Turbo 16, won two World Rally Championship titles in 1985 and 1986.
Over 5 million Peugeot 205s were built before being superseded in 1998 by the Peugeot 206, which broke this record with over 6.5 million models built.
Then the Peugeot 207, launched in 2006, went on to become the most sold car in Europe. And as for the new 208, well, watch this space…
The fight for the environment
By 1999, the world had realised the extent of the environmental problems facing us, and that the car industry needed to be making huge step changes. It was more important than ever before to think innovatively and harness all the industry’s technical know-how in an effort to reduce CO2 produced by the world’s cars.
Peugeot entered this arena with a world first – the 607 equipped with an HDi engine with a Diesel Particulate Filter. The FAP automatically removes 99.9% of soot particles emitted by diesel engines, and has since been rolled out to a large number of Peugeot HDi engines.
Also in 1999, Peugeot launched its ‘Carbon Sink’ operation in Brazil in collaboration with the ONF (French National Forestry Service). The aim of this operation was to combat the greenhouse effect with tree planting on a huge scale in ‘the lungs of the world’. More than ten years on, the project is a major success with 2 million trees replanted and approximately 111,000 net tonnes of CO2 sequestered.
Peugeot still strives to invent more ways to curb CO2 emissions, and in 2011 launched its e-HDi micro-hybrid technology, which makes it possible to cut fuel consumption by up to 15%. Peugeot aims to have one million e-HDi vehicles in circulation by the end of 2013.
Peugeot doubles its luck
In 2009, Peugeot made motorsport history, coming in both first and second places in the tough endurance race, Le Mans 24-hour, with the 908 HDi FAP. And in November 2011, the 908 HDi FAP chalked up another victorious double at the ILMC Endurance Championship in Zhuhai, China.
PeugeotSport continues to make history in the world of motorsport, but is also committed to other areas of sporting achievement.
This includes sponsoring the French Open for 14 years, being official partner of the Lancôme Trophy until 2003, and even launching its own golf tournament, the Peugeot RCZ Cup.
Peugeot celebrates 200 years of innovation
In 2010, to mark the bicentenary of the Peugeot brand, the emblematic Peugeot lion changed to reflect a new era. Peugeot’s designers created a simpler, more dynamic logo with a new stance and a new sense of movement.
Peugeot also celebrated with several futuristic launches. First, there was the unveiling of the fully electric concept car, the EX1, which is already set to break several world records for acceleration from standstill. Then came the top-of-the-range RCZ coupé, heralded as a design icon thanks to its unusual ‘double bubble’ roof. And finally, the 100% electric car, the Peugeot iOn, arrived on the city scene.
Peugeot also made its cars more accessible in 2010, with the launch of Mu by Peugeot. The service provides cars, scooters, bikes and accessories for short-term hire in many major European cities.
And with over 200 years of history and innovation now behind us, we can’t wait to see what the next 200 years bring…