1973, Fiat sold its share of Pardevi to Michelin and the following
year, Michelin having decided to return to its core activity of
manufacturing tyres, sold CitroŽn to Peugeot.
The company announcement (in la Double Chevron 37) stated "For
Citroen, the summer has been marked by two major events. One was the
introduction, on 26 August, of the new CX 2000 and CX 2200 models,
which are the subject of this issue's Special Edition (page 11).
The other was the
announcement, put out on 24 June, of a merger between Automobiles
Peugeot and Automobiles Citroen. The common announcement states that
“the final objective of both groups is the constitution, under a legal
form as yet undefined, of a coherent whole which, having at its
disposal the variety of ranges and styles required by customers, as
expressed through two networks remaining independent from one another,
would reach such dimensions as would reinforce the position of both
highly individual marques on all markets”.
It moreover states that
Peugeot will head the entity thus set up, in which Michelin will stay
by their side. In July, Peugeot and Michelin formed SONEDIA, “Sociťtť
Nouvelle pour l’Etude et le Dťveloppement de l’lndustrie Automobile”
(New Company for Motor Car Industry Research and Development), whose
purpose is to prepare the ways and means for bringing both member
companies together and to ready a detailed programme by
1st November. As an
indication: combined Peugeot-Citroen production in 1973 totalled
1,517,435 vehicles (of which 1,343,367 were private cars), thus
reaching the third rank in Europe behind Volkswagen with 2,348,063 (
2,242,761 private cars) and Fiat with 1,659,720
(1,556,778p.c.),'andinfront ofRenault with 1,452,841 (1,294,298p.c.)."
Georges Taylor became Chairman and
Managing Director. Peugeot decided to rein back CitroŽn's
finances and the SM was dropped. The CX replaced the DS and the
company introduced the LN and then the Visa - re-engineered
Peugeots. This trend of banalisation of the company's products
continued throughout the eighties and nineties.
In 1979, Jacques Lombard became Chairman and Managing Director and he was superceded by Jean Baratte in 1982. Jacques Calvet became Chairman in 1983 and was replaced by Jean-Martin Folz in 1997.
Folz, the company has seen a revival in its fortunes; the product range
is wider than ever and exciting new cars are being introduced.
the immediate post war years, the French bought French cars almost
exclusively, the British bought British, the Germans bought German and
the Italians bought Italian. In the case of the United Kingdom, a
number of foreign manufacturers had implant factories in Britain –
Ford, Vauxhall (part of GM) and surprisingly, CitroŽn too all built
cars in Britain. For the full story on CitroŽn’s UK operations,
buy a copy of John Reynolds’ excellent book “From A to X” .
other countries without an indigenous motor industry, foreign
manufacturers set up factories. CitroŽn had a factory in Belgium.
motor production geared up, markets remained essentially patriotic and
it was not really until the mid to late seventies that
internationalisation became more prevalent. Of course some
vehicles always managed to transcend national boundaries and achieve
popularity abroad – the 2CV, VW Beetle and Mini spring to mind.
Nationalism led to cars being designed with national characteristics in
mind. In France for instance, the fiscal rťgime mitigated against
large capacity engines and the poor state of the roads led to softly
sprung cars being the norm. In the United Kingdom, congested,
narrow but comparatively well surfaced roads led to firmer sprung cars
with comparatively large capacity engines. Little importance was
placed on good handling and technical innovation on the whole, played
second fiddle to styling.
France, technical innovation took precedence over annual restyling as a
result of which, technophiles found the products of this country very
appealing. Furthermore, product runs measured in decades rather
than years resulted in on-going improvements and refinements that were
denied to the purchasers of other countries’ short-termist
the time the EEC was formed and fiscal barriers started falling, the
Japanese manufacturers had started their onslaught and in response,
European manufacturers had to both internationalise their products and
enter into partnership with companies that had hitherto been
rivals. In doing so, what had made them unique was dissipated and
diluted to the extent that the product of one European manufacturer is
all but identical to the product of another. This trend continued
throughout the eighties and even into the first half of the nineties
but as the millennium approaches, there are signs that this trend will
are the names that have fallen by the wayside in the last 50 years and
almost as numerous are the names that still exist but which are now
owned by erstwhile competitors.
was not immune to these trends – in fact the company was more
vulnerable than most and what was so surprising was that it remained
independent (albeit under the wings of Michelin) for so long and that
while it lurched from imminent financial catastrophe to inevitable
financial catastrophe, the company produced some of the most innovative
and idiosyncratic cars ever built.