Today marks the birthday of Andre Citroen, the man who would go on to revolutionize the automotive industry for Europe much like Henry Ford did in America. Andre was born in Paris in 1878, and had a tumultuous life as a child. However, his love of engineering was stirred by an interest in the works of Jules Verne and the construction of the Eiffel Tower, and he eventually graduated from the École Polytechnique in 1900.
While visiting Poland, he witnessed a carpenter working on a new type of gear system that was quieter and more efficient. He bought the patent for the gears, and was later credited with the invention of double helical gears inspired by the design. These gears were also stylized as the later logo of the Citroen brand, the double chevron.
In 1906 he became a director at the Mors automotive company, and later earned great acclaim during WWI with his methods of mass-producing war armaments in coordination with the Renault plant.
Andre Citroen founded the Citroen automobile company in 1919, and it was a rapid success. In just over a decade, the company was the fourth largest automotive manufacturer in the world.
Unfortunately, a bankruptcy in 1934 led to the plant being taken over by the main creditor, Michelin, which previously manufactured tires for the automotive company. Posthumously, his work to revolutionize the automotive industry in France was recognized with a street and a public garden both named for his work. In 1998, he was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in Michigan.
Citroen’s work helped lead to the automation we see in the modern automotive industry, and today, Peugeot Citroen is one of Europe’s leading auto manufacturers.
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