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The History of Citroen

Citroen is a French car manufacturer. Founded in 1919 by André Citroen, it was one of the world's first mass-production car companies outside of the USA. Since 1976 it has been part of PSA Peugeot Citroen, and its headquarters is on rue Fructidor,in Saint-Ouen, Seine-Saint-Denis, near Paris. The brand celebrated its 90th Anniversary in 2009.

Originally a mass-market car maker with relatively straightforward designs, Citroen shocked the world in 1934 with the innovative Traction Avant, the world's first mass-production front wheel drive car (1934-57). Other significant models include the H Van (1947-81), the 2CV (1948-90), the DS (1955-1975) and the CX (1974-91).

Citroen was a keen marketer,he used the Eiffel Tower as the world's largest advertising sign, as recorded in the Guinness Book of Records. He also sponsored expeditions in Asia and Africa, intended to demonstrate the potential for motor vehicles equipped with the Kégresse track system to cross inhospitable regions. The expeditions conveyed scientists and journalists.

In 1924, Citroen began a business relationship with American engineer Edward G. Budd. From 1899, Budd had worked to develop stainless steel bodies for railroad cars, for the Pullman in particular. Budd went on to manufacture steel bodies for many car makers, Dodge being his first big auto client. In 1928, Citroen introduced the first all-steel body in Europe.

The cars were initially successful in the marketplace, but soon competitors (who were still using a wooden structure for their bodies), introduced new body designs. Citroen did not redesign the bodies of his cars. Citroens still sold in large quantities in spite of not changing the body design, but the car's low price was the main selling point and Citroen experienced heavy losses.

In an attempt to remedy the situation, Citroen developed the Traction Avant. The Traction Avant had three revolutionary features: a unitary body with no separate frame, front wheel independent suspension, and front wheel drive. Citroen commissioned Budd to create a prototype, which evolved into the 7 horsepower (CV), 32 hp (24 kW) Traction Avant of 1934.

In 1933, Citroen also introduced the Rosalie, a passenger car with the world,s first commercially available diesel engine.

Achieving quick development of the Traction Avant and its production facilities at the same time was too costly and overly ambitious, causing the financial ruin of the company. In 1934, debt forced the company into foreclosure and it was then taken over by its biggest creditor, the tyre company Michelin. Fortunately for Michelin, the Traction Avant met with market acceptance and the basic philosophy that had led to this design continued.

During the German occupation of France in World War II, Citroen researchers continued their work in secret and developed the concepts that were later brought to market in the 2CV and DS. These were widely regarded by contemporary journalists as avant garde, even radical, solutions to automotive design.

This began a period of unusual brand loyalty, normally seen in the car industry only in niche brands, like Porsche and Ferrari. The cult-like appeal of the cars to Citroenistes took almost two decades to fade, from 1975 to about 1995.

Citroen unveiled the 2CV (2 fiscal horsepower, initially only 12 HP) at the Paris Salon in 1948. The car became a bestseller, achieving the designer's aim of providing rural French people with a motorized alternative to the horse. This car remained in production, with only minor changes, until 1990 and was a common sight on French roads until recently.

1955 saw the introduction of the DS, the first full usage of Citroen's now legendary hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension system that was tested on the rear suspension of the last of the Tractions. The DS was the first European production car with disc brakes.

The DS featured power steering, power brakes and power suspension, and from 1968 directional headlights. A single high-pressure system was used to activate pistons in the gearbox cover to shift the gears in the transmission and to operate the clutch on the Citromatic, Citroen's semi-automatic transmission.

This high-pressure hydraulic system would form the basis of many Citroen cars, including the SM, GS, CX, BX, XM, and Xantia. These vehicles shared the distinguishing feature of rising to operating ride height when the engine was turned on, like a "mechanical camel" (per Car & Driver magazine). A lever located just ahead of the driver's door allowed the driver to adjust the height of the car. On right-hand drive models, this lever was located behind the driver's right foot. The height-adjustability of the suspension allowed for clearing obstacles, and changing tyres. This type of suspension was uniquely able to absorb road irregularities without disturbing the occupants.

In 1963, Citroen negotiated with Peugeot to cooperate in the purchase of raw materials and equipment. Talks were broken off in 1965.

That year Citroen took over the French carmaker Panhard in the hope of using Panhard's expertise in midsize cars to complement its own range of very small, cheap cars (e.g., 2CV/Ami) and large, expensive cars (e.g., DS/ID). Cooperation between both companies had begun 12 years earlier, and they had agreed to a partial merger of their sales networks in 1953. Panhard ceased making vehicles in 1967.

That year Citroen purchased the Italian sports car maker Maserati and launched the grand tourer SM, which featured a V6 Maserati engine and a fully powered steering system called DIRAVI. The SM was engineered as if it were replacing the DS, a level of investment the GT sector alone would never be able to support, even in the best of circumstances. Circumstances became more unfavorable as the 1970s progressed. Citroen suffered another financial blow in the 1973 energy crisis. In 1974, the carmaker withdrew from North America, due to design regulations that outlawed core features of Citroen cars.

Huge losses at Citroen were caused by failure of the Comotor rotary engine venture, plus the strategic error of going the 15 years from 1955 to 1970 without a model in the profitable middle range of the European market, and the massive development costs for the GS, CX, SM, Birotor, Maserati Bora, Maserati Merak, and Maserati Khamsin models each a technological marvel in its own right.

Citroen was weak and unable to withstand the softening of the automobile market that accompanied the 1973 oil crisis. That year FIAT withdrew from PARDEVI and returned its 49% stake to Michelin. This was an ominous sign of things to come and, less than a year later, Citroen went bankrupt. The French government feared large job losses and arranged talks between Michelin and Peugeot, in which it was decided to merge Automobiles Citroen and Automobiles Peugeot into a single company. In 1974, Peugeot purchased 38.2% of Citroen and became responsible for managing the combined activities, in particular their research, purchasing, and investments departments.

Peugeot sold off Maserati to DeTomaso in May 1975, and the Italian firm was quickly able to exploit the image of the Maserati brand to sell tens of thousands of newly-designed Bi-Turbo models.

The takeover was completed in May 1976, as Peugeot SA purchased a 90% stake of Citroen SA and the companies were combined into a holding company, known as PSA Peugeot Citroen.

The PSA venture was a financial success from 1976 to 1979. Citroen had two successful new designs in the market at this time (the GS and CX), a resurgent Citroen 2CV, and the Citroen Dyane in the wake of the oil crisis, and Peugeot was typically prudent in its own finances, launching the Peugeot 104 based Citroen Visa and Citroen LNA. PSA then purchased the aging assets of Chrysler Europe, which it rebranded as Talbot, leading to losses from 1980 to 1985.

PSA gradually eliminated Citroen’s ambitious attitude to engineering and styling in an effort to rebrand the marque as an economy brand. In the 1980s, Citroen models were increasingly Peugeot-based, which was part of a worldwide motor industry trend called "platform sharing." The 1982 BX used the hydropneumatic suspension system and still had a Citroenesque appearance, while being powered by Peugeot-derived engines and using the floorpan later seen on the Peugeot 405. By the late 1980s, many of the distinctive features of the marque had been removed or diluted - conventional Peugeot instruments, switchgear and dashboards replaced clean sheet ergonomic designs, complete with self cancelling indicators that Citroen had previously refused to adopt on ergonomic grounds.

Citroen has expanded into many new geographic markets. In the late 1970s, the firm developed a small car for production in Romania known as the Oltcit, which it sold in Western Europe as the Citroen Axel. Sales were adversely affected by poor build quality. That joint venture has ended, but a new one between PSA and Toyota is now producing cars like the Citroen C1 in the Czech Republic. In China, the C3 and Xsara are sold alongside the Fukang and Elysée local models. Citroen is still a global brand except in North America, where the company has not returned since the SM was effectively banned in 1974 for not meeting NHTSA bumper regulations.

Production of the versatile 2CV was ended in 1990. Companies like Chrysler with the CCV concept car, Toyota with the Scion xB and Honda with the Element have recognized the 2CV concept and translated it to the modern era. More recently, Citroen has introduced the C3 Pluriel, an unusual convertible with strong allusions to the 2CV, both in body style (such as the bonnet) and in its all-round practicality. A "retro style" C3-based, post-modern 2cv like the new VW Beetle and BMW MINI is under active consideration by Citroen.

The Pluriel is but one example of Citroen's return to innovation, after launching somewhat dull (although efficient) models throughout the 1990s. Other examples are the C2, C4, and C6. The introduction of newer models, such as the long-awaited XM replacement, the C6, indicates Citroen's continued commitment to innovation in the 21st century. But the days of clean-sheet thinking and truly radical innovation are long gone. Being too avant-garde and too far ahead of public taste is too risky.

At the beginning of 2009, Citroen announced that is was setting up a luxury brand called DS that would run parallel alongside its current car range. This brand (or marque) would use the name of the 1955 car to represent its future cars starting with the DS 3, a high quality small car based on the floor plan of the new C3. This car will début in early 2010 quickly followed by the larger DS 4 and the large DS 5 respectively. They will all be badged with the new DS logo rather than the familiar Citroen double chevron and all will have markedly different styling from their equivalent sister car.

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The History of Daimler

Daimler AG (formerly DaimlerChrysler, which was formerly Daimler-Benz AG) is a German car corporation (not to be confused with the British Daimler Motor Company). In addition to cars, Daimler manufactures trucks and provides financial services through its Daimler Financial Services arm. The company also owns major stakes in aerospace group EADS, high-technology and parent company of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes racing team McLaren Group, and Japanese truck maker Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation.

DaimlerChrysler was founded in 1998 when Mercedes-Benz manufacturer Daimler-Benz (1926-1998) of Stuttgart, Germany merged with the US-based Chrysler Corporation. The deal created a new entity, DaimlerChrysler. However, the buyout failed to produce the trans-Atlantic automotive powerhouse dealmakers had hoped for, and DaimlerChrysler announced on May 14, 2007 that it would sell Chrysler to Cerberus Capital Management of New York, a private equity firm that specializes in restructuring troubled companies. On October 4, 2007 a DaimlerChrysler Extraordinary Shareholders' Meeting approved the renaming of the company. From October 5, 2007, the company has been titled Daimler AG. The US company adopted the name Chrysler LLC when the sale completed on August 3, 2007.

Daimler produces cars and trucks under the brands of Mercedes-Benz, Maybach, Smart, Freightliner and many others.

An Agreement of Mutual Interest was signed on May 1, 1924 between Benz & Cie (founded 1883) of Karl Benz and Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (founded 1890) of Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach.

Both companies continued to manufacture their separate car and internal combustion engine brands until, on June 28, 1926, when Benz & Cie. and Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft AG formally merged becoming Daimler-Benz AG and agreed that thereafter, all of the factories would use the brand name of Mercedes-Benz on their cars.

In 1998 Daimler-Benz AG "merged" with the American car manufacturer Chrysler Corporation, and formed DaimlerChrysler AG. In 2007, when the Chrysler group was sold off to Cerberus Capital Management, the name of the parent company was changed to simply Daimler AG.

On November 16, 2009 Daimler purchased a 75.1% stake in Brawn GP. The company was rebranded as Mercedes GP. The purchase of Brawn meant that Daimler will sell its 40% stake in McLaren back in phases which will end in 2011. Mercedes will continue to provide sponsorship and engines to McLaren until 2015 when McLaren will probably have to find an engine supplier or make its own engines.

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