Last modified: 2010-11-13 by ivan sache
Keywords: citroen | chevron: 2 (white) |
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Corporate flag of Citroën - Image by António Martins, 17 October 2005, after a photography taken in Lisbon (Portugal)
André Citroën (1878-1935) studied at Ecole Polytechnique. Aged 35, he founded Société des engrenages Citroën in order to exploit a Polish patent on double helical gearings, in French engrenages à
denture en chevron (gears with chevron-shaped teeth). Within four
years, the sales of the company increased tenfold; Skoda asked to
exploit his patent in Central Europe. The nearly dead company Société
des autos Mors asked Citroën to save the production, which he did: the
yearly production increased from 125 to 1,200.
In 1915, Citroën was commissioned by General Baquet, Director of the Artillery, to build a factory able to produce 20,000 shells per day. The factory was built quai Javel in Paris in six weeks and the production was twice the initial objective. Citroën was then appointed responsible of the supplying in coal and raw material of all the factories working for the National Defense.
At the end of the First World War, Citroën decided to produce a popular
car, which did not exist yet in France. The quai Javel factories were
converted and the Citroën A, a 8 hp torpedo completely made in quai
Javel, was launched in June 1919. The car already bore the emblem made
of a stylized Polish chevron, still used today. Further models were the
Citroën B2 (1921), B10 (1924) and B12 (1925). The production was 100
cars per day in 1919 and 300 in 1923. In 1922, Citroën opened factories
in the suburbs of Paris (Clichy, Levallois and Saint-Ouen) and adopted the new production methods designed by Henry Ford.
In the same period, Citroën launched his famous cruises in order to prove the efficiency of its cross-country caterpillar vehicles. An expedition crossed the Sahara from Touggourt to Tombouctou (1922-1923); the Black Cruise (Croisière Noire) completed the first crossing of Africa, from Colomb-Béchar (Algeria) to Tananarive (Madagascar) in 1924; the Yellow Cruise (Croisière Jaune) crossed Asia from Beirut to Beijing via the Himalayas and the desert of Gobi (1931-1932); during this expedition, the Jesuit father Teilhard de Chardin studied the geology of Central Asia. The White Cruise (Croisière Blanche) crossed Northern America from Chicago to Alaska in 1934. These events were of course also intended for advertizing; Citroën offered to the municipality of Paris wonderful illuminations of Arc de Triomphe and Place de la Concorde, and set up a light advertisement on the Eiffel Tower with 30-m high letters.
Citroën opened outfits in Germany, England, Spain, Poland and Sweden. In 1928, Citroën produced 400 cars per day, that is one third of the French production. In 1934, he launched the first front-wheel drive car, the famous traction, which was very successful until 1947 but caused serious financial loss to the company.
In 1934, the Citroën company went into liquidation. By request of the
French government, the company was taken over by its main shareholder,
Société des Pneumatiques Michelin. Disappointed and ill, Citroën died
the next year.
Pierre Michelin, Citroën's successor, died in 1937 and was succeeded by Pierre Boulanger. In 1948, the 2 CV was presented to the Motor Show (Salon de l'Auto). Pierre Bercot, Boulanger's successor, launched in 1955 the legendary DS, designed by André Lefebvre. Further successful Citroën cars were the Ami 8 (1969), the CX (1974), the Visa (1976), the GS (1978), the BX (1982), the AX (1987), the XM and the ZX (1991), the Xantia (1993) and the Saxo (1996).
Ivan Sache, 20 October 2005
The corporate flag of Citroën is a square red flag with the company double-chevron logotype in white.
António Martins, 17 October 2005