A Brief History of Citroen


Nov 21st, 2018

A Brief History of Citroen

Andre-Gustav Citroen - Founder of Citroen

Citroen automobiles is a French car manufacturing company founded in 1919 by Andre-Gustav Citroen, a French industrialist and Freemason. Andre was born in 1878 in Paris to parents of Jewish origin. His surname “Citroen” was derived from “Limoenman”, a Dutch word that translates to “small lemons man”.  

Citroen Type A

The first vehicle Citroen Automobiles produced was the Citroen Type A. It was a vehicle with four cylinders and a maximum speed of 64kph. This vehicle would go on to become the beginning of a successful company for Citroen as it was hugely successful and popular among French citizens.  

Andre-Gustave Citroen changed the face of the French automobile industry as well as that of Europe. He was innovative and visionary, employing mass production techniques which were, as then, unknown in Europe. He took a page from Henry Ford’s book and went on to produce about one hundred (100) cars a day, within one year.  

Andre Citroen, apart from being the pioneer of mass produced cars in Europe also manufactured complete, ready-to-drive vehicles with bodies, lights, and wheels. The practice at the time was to build a chassis upon and around which a coachbuilder would then develop a body according to the family’s specifications and tastes.  

Citroen Type B

The mass production of cars by Citroen started in 1920. These cars had very simple designs and Citroen sold over 10,000 of them in less than one year. The second car by Citroen was released in 1921. This car was the Citroen Type B2, and was, by all accounts, a more powerful and better version of the Citroen Type A. It further cemented Citroen’s status as a leader in the manufacturing of automobiles in France and in Europe.  

In 1923, two years after the manufacture of the Citroen Type B, the production rate of Citroen automobiles was expanded to 50,000 units. By 1927, Citroen had become the 4th largest car manufacturer in the world.  

Citroen Traction Avant

Citroen automobiles went on to make many more innovations where cars are concerned. For instance, they were the first car manufacturing company to produce vehicles with front-wheel drives (named the Traction Avant). This they did in 1934 after having begun manufacturing commercial cars years earlier.  

Citroen 2CV

Around the end of the 1930s, Citroen automobiles built prototypes of 2CV, a vehicle that would go on to become one of its most successful. However, production was cut due to bombing of one of their factories. These prototypes were hidden until 1948 when they started manufacturing them with about 5 million reportedly manufactured.  

Citroen Innovations

Citroen Automobiles were at the forefront of many more innovations in automobiles, such as: 

  • Introduction of gas as a fuel option during the petrol crisis of the 1950s 
  • First French car manufacturing company to produce cars with electronic fuel injection among other things. 

Citroen, today, is one of the largest car manufacturers in France even though they are not that popular in other parts of the world.