Home 2CV History The 2CV in export markets

The 2CV was mainly sold in France and some European markets. In the post war years, Citroën was very focused on the home market, which had some unusual quirks, like puissance fiscale. The management of Michelin was supportive of Citroën up to a point, and the Citroën cars with a suspension designed to use Michelin's new radial tyres clearly demonstrated their superiority over their competitors' tyres. But they were not prepared to initiate the investment needed for the 2CV (or the Citroen DS for that matter) to truly compete on the global stage. Citroën were always undercapitalised until the Peugeot takeover. Consequently, the 2CV suffered a similar fate to the Morris Minor and Mini, selling fewer than 10 million units, whereas the Volkswagen Beetle, which was sold worldwide, sold 21 million units.

Some of the early models were built at Citroën's plant in Slough, England in the 1950s, but the 2CV sold poorly in Great Britain in part due to its excessive cost because of import duties on components. Sales of Slough-produced 2CVs ended in 1960. In 1959 trying to boost sales, Citroën introduced a glass-fibre coupé version called the Bijou that was briefly produced at Slough. Styling of this little car was by Peter Kirwan-Taylor who was better known for his work with Colin Chapman of Lotus cars, but it proved to be too heavy for the diminutive engine to endow it with adequate performance. It served to use up remaining 2CV parts at Slough in the early 1960s. In 1975 the 2CV was re-introduced to the British market (produced in France), in the wake of the oil crisis. This was without the crippling import duties of the 1950s, because the UK had joined the EEC. In the 1980s the best foreign markets for the 2CV were the UK and Germany.

 

A rare Jeep-esque derivative, called the Yagan, after an Aborigine tribe, was made in Chile between 1972 and 1973. After the Chilean coup 1973, there were 200 Yagáns left that were used by the Army to patrol the streets and the Peruvian border, with 106 mm cannons.

 

A similar car was sold in some west African countries as the Citroën "Baby-brousse".

 

In Iran, the Citroën 2CV was called the Jian  The cars were originally manufactured in Iran in a joint venture between Citroën and Iran National up until the 1979 Revolution, when Iran National was nationalised, which continued producing the Jian without the involvement of Citroën. 

 

Only a few thousand 2CVs were sold in North America when they were new: as in England their pricing was excessive relative to competitors. Unlike larger Citroëns, there are no legal issues with owning a 2CV however - the car is effectively a restored pre-1968 vehicle. It was one of these vehicles that became the focus of a recent news story, when musician Billy Joel had an accident in his 2CV in 2004, on Long Island, New York. Joel gave another 2CV to his bride Christie Brinkley as a present.

The 2CV was built in Chile and Argentina to address this issue for South America. The Chilean version mounted a 602 cc. engine with an output of 33 HP, and was nominated AX-330 being built between 1970 and 1978, period where it saw some changes like different bumpers, hard roof instead soft one and late units were fitted with fronts disc brakes and square headlights. A derivation called the "3CV" was built in Argentina with various modifications such as a hatchback. It's worthwhile to note that "For your eyes only" James Bond 1981 movie, rocketed sales of this city car in

Chile where it was specially imported from Spain to meet demand (mostly yellows), since it was already phased out in the Chilean assembly line.

 

An attempt was made by Citroen in 1985 to produce the 2CV in India through Escorts Group (producers of the Rajdoot motorcycles) for rural market as well as spare parts (to take advantage of India's cheaper labour costs) for export to other 2CV market coutries, but this failed to get approval from the Indian government which worried about the 2CV competing with Maruti Udyog (in which the government had some stake) models.