Peugeot, Citroen, Renault, Venturi, Bugatti, Alpine are top selling Best French car brands? Other popular France brand cars are De La Chapelle, Ligier, Microcar, Panhard, PGO etc.
France has many car manufacturers that sell vehicles all around the world. They are most well known for their luxury cars, but they do have some other gems in the brand’s roster. The top-selling French car manufacturing brands include Renault, Peugeot, and Citroën. These three automakers combined produced 5 million vehicles in 2012, which represents about one-third of France’s annual production.
Apart from them, there are also some other automakers with a significant market share. In this list of Car brands based in France, you can find a total of 15 car manufacturers. We have also included many French car companies that made a significant impact but are not present within us today.
List of Popular French Car brands that are active Now:
- Bugatti Car Brand
- De La Chapelle
- Arola SARL
Let’s explore List of Best France Cars Brand in more depth.
When we are talking about the France based car brands, how can we leave Peugeot? Let’s start the list with one of the most popular French car brands in USA.
Peugeot is known as one of the world’s most renowned car brands. The factory was founded in 1810 by Armand Peugeot. In 1889 Peugeot presented the first car with a petrol engine. Peugeot became the leading automobile producer in France. It also won many victories at races such as Le Mans 24-hour race, Monte Carlo Rally, and Rally Dakar (in 2005).
In 1981 the company was nationalized but later the Peugeot family bought out most of the shares and then became the main owner of the Company (more than 50%). That is why nowadays we can find both Peugeot and Citroen cars under one badge: PSA Group which is currently the second-largest carmaker in Europe after Volkswagen Group.
Peugeot 405 is a French mid-size car that was in production between 1991 and 1998. The power of the engine amounted to 82 hp (60 kW) at 5750 revs per minute (rpm).
Peugeot 406 two versions were available: 2-door coupe and 4-door sedan model which was built starting from 1993 till 2002.
Peugeot 407 is a large family car that was in production between 2004 and 2010. The internal and external dimensions of this model allow transporting of up to five passengers. Maximum speed amounted to 215 km/h with the capacity of a 2-liter petrol engine that developed 120 hp (88 kW).
Peugeot 806 is a large car that became part of the Peugeot line-up in 1994. It was available as a 3-door van and 5-door station wagon model that had a maximum speed between 170-200 km/h depending on the version. Peugeot RCZ is a modern sports car that was launched on the market in 2010. This model is equipped with a turbocharged petrol engine that develops maximum power of 250 hp at 5500 rpm.
The Peugeot brand also produces a wide range of vans and pickup trucks as well as 4×4 models under various group names.
Citroen is a French car manufacturer with a fascinating history that includes family ownership as well as innovative technology. The brand’s motto has always been ‘Créative Technology’. Technology’. This means not only Citroen cars have been the first to have many features now considered standard on most modern vehicles, but however, it can also be used in reference to their pioneering use of new equipment during the Second World War.
The story begins with Andre Citroen who founded a company called Les Fils de Andre Citroen at the age of 24 in 1891. By this time he had already developed a passion for bicycles and vehicles, which also included motorcycles. Andre established his company just outside Paris in Courbevoie.
The first car to be produced was the 10HP Type-A. This vehicle was surprising even though it only had two seats and could reach speeds of 43km/h! Even more surprising is that this model cost 3000 francs. The 10HP was followed by the 7 HP B-Type which featured an all-steel body with alloy wheels. Citroen cars are now known as being pretty distinct thanks to their large teardrop-shaped logo. This logo was first introduced in 1910 and was painted on the models by hand. It has remained a symbol of Citroen cars ever since.
In 1911, just two years after the company’s formation, it became one of France’s top car manufacturers with a workforce of around 5000 people. By 1914 Les Fils de Andre Citroen employed a staggering 14,000 staff.
Renault is one of the oldest car brands that still exist in the world. The company dates back 130 years. Today it’s considered an international automaker with many successful models like Logan, Dacia, and Vel Satis. Renault produces cars under different names, starting from Alpine to Rolls-Royce.
As a result of a collaboration between Louis Renault and his brothers Fernand and Marcel, Renault was founded in 1898. At first, they were assembling other companies’ designs but soon started working on their designs which led to the production of their first car in 1905. Renault introduced its first truck called “Gazette” just before World War I, after which the production of trucks continued until 1975 different names like “Express”, “Gazelle”, “Kenel” etc.
Renault introduced a small sports car called “La Clouseau” in 1952, but the company was more popular for its buses and trucks rather than cars. The production of sports cars stopped in 1960. In the 60’s Renault decided to release passenger models like “Antarès, Gordini, Floride”. They produced them until 1993 under different names ‘R4’, ‘R5’ and ‘Fluence’.
During 1990-2000 Renault became one of the most successful European automakers by producing best-selling cars like Espace, Clio, Laguna, and Twingo. Renault purchased Nissan in 1999 to produce cars for both automakers (since 2002 it became the majority shareholder).
Renault introduced its first pickup called “Grisus” in 1971. It was sold under different names like Express, D-Max, and Magnum. The last one is still produced today but it’s been produced by another company Oltcit since 1991. Renault purchased Lada (also known under the name of AvtoVAZ) in January 2001. Renault released models for this carmaker named Symbol, Logan, Sandero, and Kalina. Renault was 44% owned by Nissan until 2010 Carlos Ghosn transferred his 20% share to Renault.
Renault released its first electric car called “Zoe” in 2012 and is planning to release two more (Twizy and Kangoo) within the next couple of years.
Venturi is a French high-performance electric sports car company, that produced the world’s fastest street-legal electric car. Venturi cars have been produced for 10 years now and we can see some mods on their road cars like the VBB series and Eclectic (which was classified as 100% electric by its manufacturer).
The VBB was a Maserati powered by a Kinetic motor from Venturi. In 2003, the company announced that it produced 60% of its components in-house and that the car had recorded a top speed of 218 km/h (135 mph). In 2008 Venturi set up a group aiming to develop new electric vehicle technologies. The same year the VBB-3 prototype accelerated up to 400 km/h (250 mph) on the Circuit Paul Ricard proving ground.
The first generation is the Eclectic range, an all-electric 5 seater SUV which has been delivered since June 2006 for fleet customers. It features a four-wheel-drive using 4 YASA 160 axial flux motors giving 300 kW total power output and 4,500 N·m of torque. It has a range of up to 200 km (120 mi) and an electronically limited top speed is 130 km/h (81 mph). The batteries are lithium-titanate cells from Valence Technology providing 20 kWh capacity, with 10 kWh per tonne giving the car weight of 1800 kg unladen.
The second generation is the Quorra city concept, first displayed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2009 and designed as a city car for four people. It was planned to go into production by 2013 with road certification beginning in 2012 and sales starting before then depending on demand. This all-electric vehicle will feature carbon fiber key modules, one in the front and one in the rear, which will allow all doors to slide or open in several ways.
It will have a range of 100 km (62 mi) on a single charge with 80 hp motor output per wheel giving it four-wheel drive. It has solar panels and alloy bodywork that absorb energy during daylight hours to power air conditioning and other systems. The Quorra city concept is designed to be made using fewer parts than current cars, thus allowing for reduced cost and easier assembly.
Bugatti car brand:
Bugatti is a well-known car brand. Bugatti is one of the oldest car brands still in existence. Bugatti has been producing Bugatti cars since the early 1900s. Bugattis are known for being among the fastest production Bugatti cars ever made. The highest speed achieved by a Bugatti was 434km/h which happened to be set up by Pierre Veyron who drove a Bugatti Veyron 16.4 with a four-wheel-drive back in 2005. There was only about 300 limited edition Bugatti Veyrons produced along with an additional twenty-five Limited Edition SuperSport Bugattis that had even higher performance plus a titanium exhaust system, lowered suspension system, and stiffer anti-roll bars – everything including the Bugatti car brand.
The company that makes them has its roots in Alsace (France) where it started at the very beginning of the twentieth century. There were two brothers back then, Ettore and Jean who had a passion for making great machines. The first-ever vehicle their workshops produced was called “Bugatti Type 1” which was released back in 1910.
In those days, both Bugatti and Mercedes were in a race to see whose vehicles could go faster. Bugatti beat his competitor by showcasing the Bugatti Type 13 model that had outdone the Mercedes Speedster.
Bugattis became well-known because of their speed and was nicknamed “Gangloff” after its designer – Andre Gangloff. Bugattis also came with innovations such as Bugatti Type 32 which was one of the first car models to have a single-seater body. Bugattis won quite a few races back in those days, including Targa Florio and Le Mans 24 hours endurance race (1923).
A few of the top models Bugatti has produced include Bugatti 57SC Atlantic, Bugatti EB110GT, and Bugatti Veyron 16.4. Bugattis are also known for their luxurious design including Bugatti Type 35 that was made available with a supercharger.
Alpine is a popular French car company. Its logo is a white capital A with a red shadow and a green background around it, is set on a silver base. It bears resemblances to the British flag.
The French brand was originally created by Jean Rédélé in 1955, who had been deeply inspired by the beauty of the region he lived in at the time: Haute-Savoie. He worked incredibly hard for several years to get Alpine officially established as an automobile manufacturer. In 1965, Alpine won its first rally race, which was also its very first Schneider Cup. In 1966, it made history when they began selling cars all over Europe for the first time ever. This turned out to be quite successful for them because that same year saw their first world rally championship victory.
Rédélé retired in 1982, selling his company to Renault. He died in 1996 at the age of 80 after spending several years working with Alpine on special projects, such as prototypes for Renault’s F1 racing team.
Alpine has grown into one of the biggest auto manufacturers (both production and specialization-wise) in France. Its headquarters are located in Dieppe, Normandy. It currently produces cars like the A110-50 Concept, which is an extreme sports car that was unveiled at the 2004 Paris Motor Show. They also make sports cars like their Lotus Elise-based 2004 Sport 160 LE. The French brand is involved with various different sports events all over Europe, including big game rallies like Monte Carlo and the Tour de Corse.
The Renault Alpine A310 is one of the most well-known model lines in Alpine’s lineup. More precisely, it had a four-cylinder Gordini 1,479 cc engine with an increased displacement to 1967 cc for later models. That’s all we have for Alpine.
Other Car manufacturing brands in France:
All the mentioned car brands are not that active but still have a significant share in the market.
Aixam-Mega is a very famous French car brand that manufactures microcars. The company was founded in the year 1983 by the French car manufacturer Arola. Its headquarters are located in Aix-les-Bains.
Aixam-Mega is owned by a French company named Romet Group which specializes in microcars and small city cars. It has three production plants, one of them being located at Mandelieu near Nice, France. The other two are found across the border in northern Italy to avoid high taxes, mainly for local customers there. As well as France, Romania also imports these vehicles into its automotive market.
As of 2013, Aixam Mega produces around 5 000 cars per year with plans to increase this number. The marque has over 90 authorized dealers and distributors in the United Kingdom, France, and Romania. It is sold in numerous retail stores like Halfords in Great Britain and it even has a dedicated spare parts website that offers Aixam-Mega car parts for Viva, Cityzen, or Megacity models.
Aixam-Mega cars are very cheap to purchase but they do not appear cheap at all. Also, driving one of these can be an enjoyable experience as well because they are fuel-efficient. Some facts about Megacity cars include their low emissions, eco-friendly design, safety features, economical price range, and economical fuel consumption. The small size of the vehicle makes parking easier too because you will not have difficulties finding a place to do it.
Another advantage of this vehicle is that their design has not changed since they were first introduced in the 1980s, which means that the parts are easy to get and replace. As a company, Aixam-Mega also emphasizes recycling cars when their time is up. With every car body repainted at least once and engines recycled whenever possible, their production cycle can go longer without having any negative impact on the environment.
De La Chapelle:
De La Chapelle is a luxury French car brand that was founded by Xavier De La Chapelle in 1970 and has remained a family-owned and operated company since. The original goal of the company was to compete with other high-end luxury brands such as Mercedes Benz, BMW, and Jaguar, however, Xavier passed away relatively soon after starting the company so it never really grew beyond his vision.
De La Chapelle’s first model ever made is their now iconic DS convertible which they used to gain initial popularity among consumers who hadn’t even heard of them before. Later on, De La Chapelle started producing more practical models for those looking for sedans or faster sportier cars as well as working on custom-made designs and concepts to meet each customer’s needs.
Over the years, De La Chapelle gained some popularity among celebrities of all types, with many using their cars for both personal and professional use. This helped establish them as relatively prestigious in the eyes of common consumers who thought it may be cool to own a car like one of their favorite actors did. De La Chapelle’s rapidly growing industry also allowed them to branch out (slowly) into other forms of entertainment media, just like their competition.
Currently, De La Chapelle is working on introducing an all-electric version of their DS model that would quickly become popular among environmentally conscious celebrities and common folk alike without compromising performance. That’s all we have for you today about the De La Chapelle car brand.
Ligier is one of the popular French car brands. It was founded in 1968 by a race car driver, Guy Ligier. This brand is under the parent company of Automobiles Gonfaronnaises Sportives, which also owns other automotive brands including Alpine and Solaro. It is headquartered in Abrest, France.
Guy Ligier was a race car driver who competed in Formula One, Le Mans, and other races. He had the desire to start his own racing team, but he died before he could achieve it. His friend Tom Wheatcroft bought the Matra F1 team and renamed it Automobiles Gonfaronnaises Sportives (AGS) in April 1971. Under this parent company, various brands of automobiles are being sold today. Ligier is one of them which has been popular since its foundation in 1968 till now.
The first-ever Ligier model was introduced in 1969 as JS1 or Jule’Sport 1. It is a sports coupe with 2 doors and 4-seater capacity. The engine used for this model was V6 air-cooled engine that can produce up to 280 hp at 6000 rpm. It uses a rear-wheel-drive type. It has a manual transmission, which is quite unusual in modern cars, but somehow favored by some drivers.
The Ligier logo is created using colors blue and white with a black outline on it. There are some models of Ligier which include JS1, JS2, and JS3. The goal of the brand is to produce small-sized sports cars for road use. But until now, no more models were introduced. All Ligier models were phased out and replaced by newer variants. That’s what we have for this French car brand- Ligier.
Microcar is a car manufacturing brand that was started in 1984. Microcar was founded by Michel HAROUEL who owned a boat-building firm called BENETEAU. In 1996, the Bénéteau Group took over all shares of the car brand and in 2001 they became a 100% family-owned business when Michel’s son Laurent HAROUEL became CEO. Microcar is known for making small low-cost vehicles. They are manufactured in Saint-Pierre-des-Corps, France. Microcar is one of the smallest automobile brands in France, with an average yearly production of 4,700 units.
The brand has built 740,000 vehicles since 1984 and 90% of its models for export to more than 70 countries worldwide. Microcar’s core market is France but also has a strong presence in Germany and Switzerland as well as fast-growing Asian markets such as Vietnam and Cambodia where they manufacture parts that will later be assembled into complete vehicles at their French factories. Today 50% of all microcars are exported to over 70 countries worldwide, mainly under the brand name GOVECS. Notable markets are Germany, USA, Vietnam, Cambodia, Russia, and Algeria.
Microcar helped define an emerging vehicle type when their first models were introduced in 1984. The company makes small low-cost cars for city driving. They have a reliable 2 stroke engine with an electric start located at the rear of the car which is part of Microcar’s design trademark along with front-wheel drive and fiberglass body panels.
The goal of the Microcar car brand is to be innovative and creative. Microcar has a wide range of vehicles from small city cars to electric-powered vehicles with 4, 8, or 12 seats for urban mobility solutions. I hope now you have got a brief idea about Microcar.
Panhard is one of the most famous car brands in France. They are also one of the oldest car brands. They are mainly known for their production of high-power cars, especially V12’s in the late ’40s and early ’50s. They are also known for their luxurious comfort. Panhard was not dependent on other manufacturers to get components for its cars because it could build all the parts themselves. Consequently, they gained a lot of good experience with automobile technology which helped them to further develop themselves.
Panhard is world-famous for being France’s greatest luxury car manufacturer but did you know that it started out as a fighting vehicle manufacturer? It wasn’t until 1889 when Emile Levassor designed a vehicle with an internal combustion engine that Panhard & Levassor started building motorized carriages for wealthy people or companies. The company was founded by French engineers René Panhard and Émile Levassor in 1891. They had made several inventions like the V6 engine, front-wheel drive system (1895), or the modern windscreen wiper (1910).
The form of an automobile was very different at that time; it looked more like a railway carriage with its horse-like front wheel steering device. However, they managed to produce high-power cars from the beginning because of their experience building luxury carriages for rich clients.
In 1895 Panhard & Levassor designed one of their first successful vehicles: A 2 cylinder internal combustion engine that could reach a top speed of 15 km/h. A year later they managed to move the engine to the front of the vehicle and invent a new steering system with 2 wheels at the same time. Now, I think you got a little idea about the history of the brand.
Now, let’s take a look at their most famous vehicle: The Panhard 24 CT. This high-power luxury car had 6 cylinders and was able to reach speeds of up to 97 km/h (60 mph). Even though it is an old model, it still looks modern because of its aerodynamic design.
PGO is a well-known France-based car brand that is famous for its affordable, efficient, and reliable vehicles. Since 1985, PGO has been creating cars that are ideal for city driving as well as traveling long distances along highways. France car automotive has changed significantly since 1985, and PGO has remained one of France’s leading automotive companies throughout the years.
PGO is based out of Saint-Christol-lès-Alès, France. Gilles Prevote founded the company along with his son Olivier Prevot in 1985 after they recognized that many people living in French cities were having a hard time finding affordable cars to drive. As a result, they wanted to create vehicles that were well suited for city driving conditions as well as traveling long distances on highways without sacrificing gas mileage or safety features.
PGO’s first model was the Ecquevilly, which came out in 1988. This vehicle is considered to be one of the best cars ever produced by PGO since it has excellent safety items along with a great design. The company has continued to make vehicles that are safe and offer outstanding gas mileage without sacrificing performance over the years. Many French citizens are familiar with PGO because they have been producing quality cars for more than 30 years. As a result, their reputation has spread throughout France and other countries worldwide.
PGO manufactures both small-sized city cars as well as larger ones designed for transporting people or having large cargo spaces filled with material so individuals can move things around easily while still being cost-efficient when it comes to gas mileage.
In addition to this, PGO has been working closely with the French government as well as other European governments for years to help create more energy-efficient vehicles that are suitable for long-distance traveling along highways without sacrificing safety features and overall performance.
In a nutshell, PGO is one of France’s best-known car brands that has been producing high-quality cars since 1985. The company first started out by focusing on creating small-size city cars before expanding their business through continuing to manufacture eco-friendly vehicles designed for traveling long distances on highways without sacrificing gas mileage or safety features.
This is a well-known brand in France and throughout various countries, which has been respected for its passion for creating affordable cars that are eco-friendly and suitable for drivers looking to have sustainable vehicles.
Non active car brands based in France:
Arola SARL is an old, French automobile brand created by Daniel Manon in Lyon- Corbas, France. Arola was one of the first French car brands to be popular outside of their home country; they were known for superior quality and performance that few other French car brands could match at the time. Arola’s success helped drive many other French car brands like Renault, Citroen, Peugeot, Bugatti, Talbot-Lago, etc.; all of whom did not have the same amount of popularity or fame as Arola did.
During its production years between 1975 and 1983, Arola never received any kind of major automotive recognition/awards which is very ironic considering how advanced looking some models were looking then.
Arola had a few engines available throughout its production years; all of them were designed and built in-house. Although they were not considered “audiophile” or “high performance,” they did exceed the power output and fuel economy/efficiency that their main competitors (Renault, Peugeot, Citroen, etc.) could offer at the time which is very impressive given just how old they are. This was a short-lived brand, but they definitely made a huge impression on people even to this day.
Ballot was a very reputable French car brand during the first decade of the 20th century, which was brought to an end by the Great Depression. Its motto was “Ballot doesn’t make cars, it makes drivers.”
Ballot was founded by Édouard Ballot in 1905. He bought out a company in Levallois-Perret, a northern suburb of Paris. From 1905 to 1919 he developed his own cars there and also in a factory at Gennevilliers which opened in 1910. The cars were high quality but temperamental and expensive with much use of aluminium, magnesium, and exotic materials such as wood for the dashboard.
Though Ballot had some success before WWII (they won at Le Mans in 1921), their most famous moment came after they were no longer producing cars. During the Occupation of France, Nazi officers with too much money and power on their hands bought a majority stake in Ballot company, importing many Mercedes-Benzes into France to be serviced by them. Some Ballots survived World War II, but when production began again after the war ended, Ballot realized there was no profit left in automobile manufacturing. The last car left production in 1932.
Chenard-Walcker is a French car brand, which has its roots in the early development of cars. The company was established in 1891 by Ernest Chenard and Henri Walcker to build automobiles. During the first decade of their existence, they started their business under another name – “Atelier Moteur” – soon after, due to rapid success, they changed it into “Chenard et Walcker”. At that time, they manufactured gas-powered cars with De Dion engines.
After years of struggling for survival during very difficult times (such as the First World War), Chenard-Walckers flourished again during the 1920s when they brought out one successful model after another like Type WB (1925). It was not until the 1930s, when German Wanderer took over the company, that Chenard-Walckers started producing cheap cars. They did not survive after World War II and disappeared in 1946 following their acquisition by Simca.
The most known models of Chenard-Walckers are Type A (1905), Type B Berline (1907), Type C torpedo (1912), Model L2 Torpedo Fourgonette (1920), and Model WB saloon (1925). During the 1920s they produced one milestone model after another including a successful type called “Type V”. In 1928, Wanderer from Germany acquired them which allowed them to produce lower-class cars. That’s all about Chenard-Walcker.
We have added a small description of the company so that you can increase your knowledge of French car brands. As a car enthusiast, you may even know some of these brands or be interested in their products. All the mentioned car brands are French car automotive manufacturing companies because they are either based in France or have their main production facilities there. It is important to mention that many of the mentioned car manufacturers also produce cars abroad. We hope that our article will help you to expand your knowledge about the Car brands in France.