De Dion-Bouton was a French automobile manufacturer and railcar manufacturer operating from 1883 to 1953. The company was founded by the Marquis Jules-Albert de Dion, Georges Bouton, and Bouton's brother-in-law Charles Trépardoux.
The company was formed after de Dion in 1881 saw a toy locomotive in a store window and asked the toymakers to build another. Engineers Bouton and Trépardoux had been eking out a living with scientific toys at a shop in the Passage de Léon, near "rue de la Chapelle" in Paris. Trépardoux had long dreamed of building a steam car, but neither could afford it. De Dion, already inspired by steam (in the form of rail locomotives) and with ample money, agreed, and De Dion, Bouton et Trépardoux was formed in Paris in 1883. This became the De Dion-Bouton automobile company, the world's largest automobile manufacturer for a time, becoming well known for their quality, reliability, and durability. n 1900, De Dion-Bouton was the largest automobile manufacturer in the world, producing 400 cars and 3,200 engines. The company soon began producing engines and licenses for other automobile companies with an estimate of 150 makes using them. Production was so great, it proved impossible to test every engine; if it failed on the bench, it was simply disassembled. Every engine was being made by hand; the assembly line had not yet been introduced. By 1904 some 40,000 engines had been supplied across Europe. That year, De Dion-Bouton's factory at Quai National (now Quai de Dion-Bouton), Puteaux, employed 1,300 and produced more than 2,000 cars, all hand-made. The engine moved to the front in 1903 in the Populaire with 700 or 942 cc (42.7 or 57.5 cu in) engines, the latter being powerful enough to allow trucks to be added to cars, and by the end of the year reverse gear had also appeared. It was joined by the 6 CV (4 kW) 864 cc (52.5 in3) Types N and Q (the latter a low-priced K), the 8 CV (6 kW) R, and their first multi-cylinder model, the two-cylinder