Steel and tool manufacturer Peugeot was founded in 1805 before trying its hand at car manufacture from 1889. In 1912, Peugeot had pioneered with its L76 racing model, with four camshafts and four valves per cylinder.
In 1929, Peugeot launched the 201, its first model with a zero in the centre of the name, beginning a tradition that lasts to this day. The 201 subsequently became the first car with independent front suspension, in 1931. In 1934, Peugeot produced a coupé–cabriolet with a folding hardtop, while the 402 was one of the first production cars with an aerodynamically designed body in 1935.
Postwar, with its factories severely damaged, Peugeot designed the 203 model in 1946, but could not put it into production till 1948, due to a materials’ shortage. In 1955, the Peugeot 403 was launched, with a body styled by Pinin Farina, beginning a long partnership with the Italian house. In 1968, Peugeot launched the 504, a car that would remain in production under licence till 2005.
In 1974, Peugeot took a holding in Citroën before taking it over completely in 1975 (selling Citroën’s Maserati unit that year), and in 1978, it acquired the assets of Chrysler Europe, rebranding its products Talbot. However, Talbot passenger cars were made only till 1986, with the range replaced by Peugeots.
Peugeot continued innovating: it was the first to sell a turbodiesel in 1979 (the 604) and it put electric cars on the market in the 1990s.
The company made its first forays into Red China in the 1980s, with 504 and 505 models built in Guangzhou from 1985 to 1997. While not a financial success, Peugeot learned enough about the Chinese market and has subsequently become one of its mainstays through Dongfeng Peugeot–Citroën Automobile from the 1990s.
By 2008, the company had made 50 million vehicles.