The Life and Time of André Citroën: Founder of an Automobile Company

On February 5 in the year 1878, one of the pioneers in the automobile industry was born in Paris, France. His name was André-Gustave Citroën, founder of the Citroën Automobile Company.

André Citroën was one of five children of a Jewish Polish diamond merchant who immigrated to France. When Andre was five years old, his father committed suicide. While still in college at the prestigious École Polytechnique in Paris, his mother died which affected his performance and his grade. Nevertheless, he struggled and graduated in 1898 with an engineering degree. After graduation, he found work as an industrial designer. Later, he travelled to Poland and saw a kind of gear which he bought and brought back to France. He patented it and today, he is credited as the inventor of double helical gears.

As a director of Mors Automobile factory in 1908, Andre used his knowledge of engineering to increase the number of cars manufactured with reduced cost. During World War I, he was instrumental in the mass production of thousands of military hardware for the French Army.

In 1919, Andre founded the Citroën automobile company and worked hard to make the business successful. He converted his munitions plant to produce inexpensive small cars which competed with other automobiles particularly Ford Motors. Because of his obstinacy not to retrench during the Great Depression of the 1930s, the company suffered financial difficulties and eventually, he lost control of the company in 1934.

André Citroën died of stomach cancer in 1935. He had four children with his wife Giorgina. Since 1976, Citroen Motors became part of PSA Peugeot Citroen, a multinational automotive company with revenues of $87.4 billion rank #96 in the Fortune Global 500 list of 2019.


André Citroën
André Citroën (Credit:

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