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Citroën is a major French automobile manufacturer, part of the PSA Peugeot Citroën group since 1976, founded in 1919 by French industrialist André-Gustave Citroën (1878–1935). In 1934, the firm established its reputation for innovative technology with the "Traction Avant". This car was the world's first mass-produced front wheel drive car, but also one of the first to feature a unitary type body, with no chassis holding the mechanical components. In 2009, the company celebrated its 90th anniversary with a celebration on 3 October.
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In 1954 it had produced the world's first hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension system then, in 1955, the revolutionary DS, the first mass production car with modern disc brakes and, in 1967, it introduced in several of its models swiveling headlights that allowed for greater visibility on winding roads; these automobiles have received various international and national level awards, including three European Car of the Year.
With a successful history in motorsport, it is the only automobile manufacturer to have won three different official championships from the International Automobile Federation: the World Rally Raid Championship five times, the World Rally Championship eight time and the World Touring Car Championship. Citroën has been selling vehicles in China since 1984 largely via the Dongfeng Peugeot-Citroën joint venture, which today represents a major market for the brand. In 2014, when PSA Peugeot Citroën ran into severe financial difficulties, the Dongfeng Motor Corporation took an ownership stake.
André Citroën built armaments for France during World War I; after the war however, he realised that, unless he planned ahead he would have a modern factory without a product. There was nothing automatic about his decision to become an automobile manufacturer once the war was over: the automotive business was one that Citroën knew well, thanks to a successful six-year stint working with Mors between 1908 and the outbreak of war. The decision to switch to automobile manufacturing was evidently taken as early as 1916, which is the year when Citroën asked the engineer Louis Dufresne, previously with Panhard, to design a technically sophisticated 18HP automobile for which he could use his factory once peace returned. Long before that happened however, he had modified his vision and decided, like Henry Ford, that the best post-war opportunities in auto making would involve a lighter car of good quality, but made in sufficient quantities to be priced enticingly. In February 1917 Citroën contacted another engineer, Jules Salomon, who already had a considerable reputation within the French automotive sector as the creator, in 1909, of a little car called Le Zèbre. André Citroën's mandate was characteristically demanding and characteristically simple: to produce an all-new design for a 10 HP car that would be better equipped, more robust and less costly to produce than any rival product at the time.
The result was the Type A, announced to the press in March 1919, just four months after the guns fell silent. The first production Type A emerged from the factory at the end of May 1919 and in June it was exhibited at a show room at Number 42, on the Champs-Élysées in Paris which normally sold Alda cars. Citroën persuaded the owner of the Alda business, Fernand Charron, to lend him the show-room, which is still in use today. This C42 showroom is where the company organises exhibitions and shows its vehicles and concept cars. A few years later, Charron would be persuaded to become a major investor in the Citroën business. On the 7th of July 1919, the first customer took delivery of a new Citroën 10HP "Type A".