Citroën, André Gustave

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CITROËN, ANDRÉ GUSTAVE (1878–1935), French engineer and industrialist. Citroën was born and educated in Paris; his early talent for business and organization manifested itself in the successful exploitation of patents particularly related to automobile transmissions in France, with the cooperation of the famous Skoda Works in Austro-Hungary. In 1908 he joined the Mors automobile company, whose annual production of 125 cars soon rose to more than 1,200 cars. During World War i Citroën was instrumental in maintaining and steadily increasing French ammunition production. After the war he concentrated on his favorite project: the production of a popular, low-priced car. His idea succeeded; he rapidly expanded his industrial organization not only in France but also internationally. He organized the traffic lights in Paris and in return secured the use of the Eiffel Tower for advertising. Citroën sponsored Trans-African and Trans-Asian automobile crossings, the first of which was the first automobile crossing of the Sahara in 1922. He developed specially built automobiles for these crossings. In 1934 Citroën introduced the front wheel drive for his automobiles, but financial complications forced him out of business soon after that. The firm was taken over by Michelin.

[Joachim O. Ronall]