efe-epaBy Marta Garde Paris

When Frenchman André Citroën launched his first car in 1919 the engine barely reached 65 kilometers per hour and as the automobile manufacturer marks its centenary, a display of vintage and cutting edge cars in downtown Paris pays tribute to the company's achievements.

From that first Type A model, which was produced from June 1919 to Dec. 1921, to its most recent car, the 100 percent electric 19-19 Concept, the world and the challenges humanity faces have changed and Citroën now has a firm commitment to shift to electrification.

The company, now led by Briton Linda Jackson, first launched in an old artillery factory, which, after World War I, Citroën reconverted to produce cars.

"I think the legacy is about what we've brought to the industry where we've challenged some of the rules, and we've come up with some quite staggeringly different types of vehicles, and hopefully we can continue that in the future," Jackson told EFE.

The British entrepreneur (born 1959) has been at the helm of Citroën since June 2014 and is aware that the future can only be "green".

However, Jackson said that the shift to electric vehicles is something that is beyond the control of manufacturers.

"I think it depends not necessarily on the cars but it depends on the infrastructure," she continued.

"So it depends on how easy it is to be able to charge those vehicles as we are making our journey, how easy is it to be able to have a plug to be able to plug it in when we are at home," Jackson added.

The future is also autonomous, the Briton added.

"Full autonomous cars I think we are quite a long way away, I always say probably 2030 or something like that," Jackson said.

"I think we have to remember that many of the features that we now have o our cars, for example, features that you have on C5 aircross SUV are already part autonomous, with security that is helping us drive safely," the chief executive said.

The display of a vast range of vintage through to cutting edge new models in Paris' XV district has drawn in pedestrians who stop to look at one of Citroën's latest models such as the Ami One Concept.

Parked side by side the sci-fi looking electric car, vintage models such as the 2 CV or the B12, whose main innovation was to incorporate brakes on all four wheels, provoke pangs of nostalgia.

The car manufacturer has its ambitions set on expanding markets.

The PSA group, which owns Citroën, Peugeot, Vauxhall and Opel amongst others, officially announced its entry into the Indian market in April with the launch next year of its C5 Aircross model.

"We are always looking for new markets, Southeast Asia, India, it's important but we also need to make sure that we are still very strong in our markets in Europe, South America, so we are making sure we are strong in those but yes we want to have a balanced portfolio of markets because this world is chaotic and you need to be strong everywhere," Jackson told Efe.

Europe is for the moment its strongest market though.

Citroën sales in the first quarter of this year grew 4.5 percent, compared to a 16 percent decrease in Latin America or 56.7 percent in China and Southeast Asia. EFE-EPA

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