Peugeot’s new product range – 200 years in the making?

We’ve already had a string of automotive birthdays this year. Jaguar is now 75 years old, Seat is 65 and the Renault Clio has been nipping around cities for 20 years.

The most impressive anniversary is that of Peugeot. The French marque celebrates its 200th birthday this year – a remarkable feat.

Of course, the company didn’t begin as a car manufacturer, instead it comes from more humble beginnings. The Peugeot brothers, Jean-Pierre and Jean-Frederic, converted an old corn mill at the height of the industrial revolution to build salt and pepper mills.

The company progressed through tools, saws, bicycles and motorbikes before eventually arriving at cars and vans.

The company adopted the famous lion badge in 1858 and the numbering system was introduced in 1929 in the 201 – a number chosen because it was the engineering department’s 201st project.

In modern times, the Peugeot 206 supermini became the best-selling Peugeot model ever thanks to stylish looks and wide range of engines and trim levels.

Peugeot now wants to climb three places in the world ranking of car manufacturers, a feat that is largely going to be down to the success of the RCZ coupe. It signals a break from the traditional numbering system and sports the new two-tone Peugeot badge and has impressed critics and journalists alike.

We’ve talked more extensively about the RCZ here, but this isn’t the only new addition to the two-century-old manufacturer.

The marque plans an incredible 14 new models in the next 4 years. These include the new Peugeot 208 and Peugeot’s new electric model, the iOn city car, both in 2010.

Joining them will be a Peugeot 308 Hybrid in 2010 and a GTI version in 2011. A new Peugeot 508 family car and a sporty Peugeot Boxster will arrive in 2011, and a cabriolet version of the RCZ is expected by 2012.

There’s even been discussions to put the tiny BB1 electric four-seater concept into full production as part of the new era for the manufacturer, captured under the signature – Motion & Emotion.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see Peugeot entering new markets as it becomes more bold. In recent months, the widely acclaimed genre-crossing 3008 has proved to be a hit, and it could encourage the manufacture to move towards more crossover vehicles.