Peugeot is one of the oldest automakers in the world, dating back to 1810. However, the French firm started out by making coffee mills and bicycles and didn’t build its first car, a steam-powered three-wheeled vehicle, until 1899. Peugeot switched to gasoline engines in 1890 and became the first manufacturer to fit rubber tires to such a vehicle. Peugeot is part of Groupe PSA, which as of 2019 also includes automakers such as Citroen, DS, Opel, and Vauxhall. Peugeot has been one of the biggest and most important carmakers in Europe since the 1950s and it’s also an important player in emerging markets. The brand is famous for the reliability of its cars with many decade-old vehicles still being used in countries from Africa and Asia.
Peugeot has produced five winners of the prestigious European Car of the Year award. The 504 won the prize in 1969, followed by the 405 in 1998, and the 307 in 2002. More recently, Peugeot won the award with the 308 in 2014 and the 3008 in 2017. Peugeot also has a successful motorsport division. Important achievements include five World Rally Championship wins, seven Dakar Rally wins, three 24 Hours of Le Mans wins, and two World Endurance Championship wins. Peugeot entered the U.S. in 1958, but exited in 1991, after 33 years, due to slow sales and uncompetitive models compared to locally built and imported cars. The French brand has yet to return since then, but word has it Groupe PSA is looking to come back to North America in the next decade.