Armand Peugeot (1849–1915)

Armand Peugeot was one of the founders of the French motor car manufacturing industry. He was born at Herimoncourt in eastern France to a Protestant family who had long been involved in metal-working. He graduated at the École Centrale in Paris after which he toured England to study the growing manufacture of bicycles.

He established a small engineering company, Peugeot Frères Ainés, with his cousin Eugène Peugeot, and in 1882 began making bicycles, introducing the Grand Bi, with one big and one small wheel, similar to the ‘penny farthing’ models being built in England. The company displayed a steam tricycle at the World Fair in Parish in 1889, built a quadricycle with a Daimler engine the following year, and soon produced their first orthodox motor car. They entered several cars in France’s first motor race, held in 1894, and in 1896 Armand Peugeot established his own company, the Société Anonyme des Automobiles Peugeot, with a factory at Audincourt in the Doubs region of eastern France.

He began production in 1897 with 125 workers who initially completed one car a week, but the following year they made three a week, and were making ten a week by 1900. An excess of models led to some financial problems but in 1905 he introduced a lightweight car, the Bébé Peugeot, of which he sold 400 in the first year of production. Eugène Peugeot had set up a separate company which Armand’s Société Anonyme des Automobiles Peugeot took over in 1910. Armand Peugeot retired in 1913 by which time Peugeot, making 10,000 cars a year, was Europe’s largest motor car manufacturer.

The company continued to grow in the inter-war period introducing the first mass-production Peugeot, the 201, in 1929, and, after various takeover, the company’s name is still prominent within the European car industry.