A founder of the French automobile industry
As a young man with initiative and vision, Armand Peugeot evolved his family’s metal shop into one of France’s first automotive companies. The Peugeot family operated factories in eastern France that originally produced springs, tooling devices, coffee grinders and sewing machines. The young Armand was so transfixed by industry and engineering that, after graduating from the École Centrale in Paris, he departed for a trip to England to study the country’s bicycle industry. Once back in France, he and cousin Eugène Peugeot founded the Peugeot Frères Ainés in 1865. By 1882 they were manufacturing bicycles inspired by English models, and a few years later Peugeot started experimenting with steam engines. The company exhibited a steam-powered tricycle at the 1889 World Fair in Paris, and the following year, Armand replaced steam with petrol to create Peugeot’s first four-wheeled vehicle. Labeled the Type 2 Quadricycle, it sported a Daimler engine. By 1891, Peugeot was becoming an established brand.
The runaway success of Peugeot’s motorized vehicles impelled Armand to take his vision a step further. The ambitious entrepreneur wanted to increase production, but Eugène had reservations about the significant investment that would be needed. Knowing full well that it would anger his family, Peugeot set up his own workshop in 1896, naming it the Société Anonyme Des Automobiles Peugeot. He built a factory in the town of Audincourt devoted exclusively to producing automobiles with an internal combustion engine. Parallel to his bustling career, Peugeot had a family life: he married Sophie Leonie Fallot in 1872, and together they had five children. Tragically, their only son, Raymond, died in 1896. As a result of losing his sole male heir, Peugeot decided to merge his company back with Eugène’s in 1910. When he stepped away from leading the company in 1913, Peugeot was the largest auto manufacturer in France. Armand passed away in January of 1915.
Known today as Groupe PSA, Armand Peugeot’s brainchild has nearly 140,000 employees, and stands as one of Europe’s three major automobile producers. Armand Peugeot’s powerful vision makes him a key figure in automotive history. Facing resistance and doubt from those around him, he insisted on realizing his industrial dreams – on a national, and then international stage.