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Andre Citroen was born in Paris in 1878. Visiting Poland in 1900 to visit relatives, he saw an example of a double helical gear wheel at a small engineering works. He saw that this gear wheel design would combine efficiency with strength, so he opened a small factory in Paris to machine double helical gear wheels. Seven years later the double helical gear would become the symbol of the Citroen car business. in 1919 Citroen launched the first car bearing his name, the Model A, followed by the B, C, the Rosalie and the NH. Though it was the largest producer of motor vehicles in Europe, Citroen was not profitable, but Andre decided to make a totally new model in a new factory. The revolutionary new car was the front-wheel drive Traction Avant (TA), launched in 1933 and remaining in production for 23 years; different versions included the 7, 11 and 15. Andre Citroen needed more money to develop and produce the new car, but his bank would only offer support if he came to a financial arrangement with Michelin, the firm's principal creditor. Within a month the tyre firm took control, and Citroen prospered. A year later Andre Citroen died. An economy small car designed in the 1930s entered production postwar as the 2CV, of which almost four million were sold from 1948 to 1990. Citroen had made trucks and buses before the war, but the most famous postwar van was the H; half a million were sold by 1981. In 1955 the sleek DS and ID replaced the TA. In the 1960s Citroen took over Panhard and Berliet, but in 1974 Michelin sold 50% of Citroen to Peugeot, and sold Berliet to Renault. Peugeot took full control of Citroen in 1976, and PSA Group (Peugeot Society Anonyme) continued to own the Citro?e brand into the 21st century.
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