The year is 1810, and history is about to be made. In the town of Sochaux in eastern France, the Peugeot family is beginning their foray into centuries of innovation. Inspired by their father Jean-Pierre’s position in the industry, the Peugeot brothers (Jean-Pierre II and Jean-Frederic) converted Jean-Pierre Senior’s grain mill into a steel foundry. And that was just the beginning.
Experts in steel… and bicycles
The early days of the Peugeot brand saw the Peugeot brothers manufacturing a wide variety of steel products, including saws, springs, and coffee grinders. Perhaps the most influential, though, was their production of Peugeot bicycles. Armand Peugeot, son of Emile Peugeot and grandson of Jean-Pierre Peugeot, introduced his penny-farthing in 1886, with several other bicycle designs introduced over the coming years.
Even throughout Peugeot’s steady growth to becoming one of the most sought-after and innovative automotive brands today, Peugeot Cycles has continued into the present, with new ranges consistently hitting the streets – their hybrids, electric bikes, and trekking models are worth checking out. Peugeot Cycles even made history in 1977 when the Peugeot brand won its tenth Tour de France with Bernard Thevenet riding.
What does the Peugeot logo mean?
As the Peugeot brand began gaining traction, the Peugeot family knew they needed a strong symbol to represent it.
Enter the lion emblem.
The Peugeot lion is the brand’s icon, and represents everything the Peugeot family has worked towards. Bold and powerful, the lion’s teeth were intended to represent the strength and sharpness of the products.
Lions have long been used as symbols of strength, majesty, and courage, and are often considered the kings of the animal world. Fitting for Peugeot, as the brand has always been ahead of the game amongst car brands.
Peugeot owners were quick to grasp on to the Peugeot lion, embellishing their radiator caps with sculptures designed by Baudichon in the 1920s. Later, the classic lion’s head was featured on car grilles to further demonstrate prowess.
In the 1940s, the logo was adapted to the franche-comté coat of arms, with the lion silhouette standing on two legs. The lion’s spine became a symbol of Peugeot’s unbreakable and balanced brand.
The Peugeot logo has seen some changes over time, but has always maintained the representation of Peugeot as strong and powerful. The new logo shows a close-up of a lion’s head with a thick, luscious mane, crowned with the Peugeot title, solidifying its status as king.
From coffee grinders to motor vehicles…
Ever-fascinated by all things mechanical, Armand Peugeot began the journey of manufacturing Peugeot’s first motorised vehicle. In collaboration with Leon Serpollet, a steam specialist, the steam-powered Serpollet-Peugeot was born in 1889.
Now, this wasn’t your average motor vehicle. For one, it only had three wheels. Run by activating a hand lever, the Serpollet-Peugeot paved the way for the automobiles to come – but it didn’t prove as popular as hoped with the general public.
But that was okay, because Armand Peugeot was already back to the drawing board to create Peugeot’s first four-wheeled, petrol driven car (or, as it was known, the Type 2 quadricycle). This development into petrol-driven vehicles proved to be far more successful, and so began a beautiful journey for the family business.
Let’s talk numbers
The introduction of Peugeot’s first mass-produced car took place in 1929, and this began Peugeot’s iconic numbering system we still see with the car manufacturer today.
The Peugeot 201 was a huge success, and paved the way for the models that followed, including the 301 in 1932 and the 401 and 601 in 1934.
In 1962, Peugeot introduced the iconic and stylish convertible, the 404 Cabriolet. A true symbol of the 60s, the 404 was wildly popular with collectors and was a key starting point for future coupes in the Peugeot line.
The 205 was launched in 1983, and solidified Peugeot’s position in the small car market. Peugeot built over 5 million models – but every new model beat the last one by a mile. The 206 recorded 6.5 million models, and the 207 became the most sold car in Europe.
In the present day, the 208 remains one of Peugeot’s best-selling models, and it’s easy to see why. With such a long heritage and continued innovation, the 208 is as classic as it is new and modern.
When two become one
In the 1970s, Peugeot began acquiring shares of car manufacturer Citroën and, eventually, created PSA Peugeot Citroën. PSA Peugeot Citroën was eventually renamed to simply PSA, and has produced many notable innovations, including the Hybrid Air engine, which saw a petro-hydraulic hybrid used in passenger cars.
Modern-day initiatives begin
In the late 90s, Peugeot began making strides in more sustainable and environmentally-friendly initiatives. The world was beginning to realise what an impact carbon emissions were having, and car manufacturers now had the task of reducing the CO2 their cars were producing.
Peugeot cars took the very first step (or drive) into cleaner operations, with the 607 model being equipped with an HDi engine. These engines had a Diesel Particulate Filter which worked to remove 99.9% of soot particles released by diesel engines.
Alongside cleaner and more efficient engines, Peugeot began their Carbon Sink operation in an effort to fight greenhouse emissions. Since its birth, Carbon Sink has seen over 2 million trees replanted in Brazil in collaboration with the French National Forestry Service.
In present day, Peugeot is continuing its efforts to a more sustainable future with the introduction of new engine innovations, including the PureTech petrol engines and BlueHDi diesel engines. Ultra-efficient yet still just as powerful, the PureTech engine received the International Engine of the Year Award for four consecutive years, delivering a driving experience that is generally associated with far larger engines, but with an improved fuel economy and less CO2 emissions.
Meanwhile the Blue HDi line has taken effective steps in reducing pollutant emissions, including nitrogen oxide, making the diesel engine more akin to that of a petrol engine while still maintaining the benefits and pleasures of diesel.
Peugeot hits 200 years and keeps on going
The year 2010 marked Peugeot’s 200 year anniversary, with a new lion emblem for a new chapter. With the lion’s body in a new stance to demonstrate a sense of movement and agility, Peugeot began looking to the future. With new models introduced, including a fully electric concept car, the superior RCZ coupe, and the 100% electric Peugeot iOn, Peugeot continues to make its mark in history.
Throughout it all, Peugeot has remained a family business, with family descendants still holding managing positions. And Peugeot’s dedication to innovation continues, too, with new driving technology and state-of-the-art design going full speed ahead.
As Peugeot continues on its adventure in both automotive and non-automotive worlds, one thing is always certain: Peugeot will do so with the strength, power, and majesty that the lion represents. The first 200 years was just the beginning.
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