French Car Brands

French Car Brands

France is one of the pioneers of the global automotive industry. French engineers played an important role in the birth and development of the world automobile industry. They were the first to create a model equipped with an internal combustion engine in 1883, but mass production of cars did not take place.

Today, cars made in France are difficult to confuse with counterparts from famous global brands. Most models are presented by 4 big concerns, but all of them compare favorably with European, Japanese, Asian and American competitors with a special charm, elegant design, high comfort, safety, and high technical characteristics.

Each year over 5.5 million cars are “born” in the factories of automakers from the “Fifth Republic”, located all over the planet. Such popularity of French cars all over the world is conditioned by a high level of development of the automobile industry of this country – there are several large manufacturers, such as Peugeot, Citroen, and Renault, which are rightfully included in the list of world-leading companies. However, if they specialize mainly in “inexpensive” cars (though they do not stop constantly making “premium requests”), one more French company – Bugatti – is “giving birth” to really powerful and exclusive supercars.

Luxury Car Brands

The luxury cars segment in France is pretty versatile — here we have a supercars manufacturer, Bugatti, which sounds Italian, but completely French; then there is the Venturi brand, which today is known for its exquisite electro cars, breaking all the “affordable” and “strange-looking” stereotypes; and the newest high-end manufacturer, DS, which makes reliable and comfortable vehicles, with lost of hidden features.

Bugatti

Bugatti Logo

Founded: 1909
Founder: Ettore Bugatti

This luxury French automotive brand was established in 1909 by the Italian designer Ettore Bugatti. Before his tragic death in 1939 he managed to present to the world several models of prestigious sports cars.

At the moment, the company produces streamlined supercars in a futuristic style, equipped with high-tech equipment and a powerful motor. Bugatti also features one of the most recognizable logos with a unique design. The red badge with the founder’s name, made in the form of an oval, is decorated with the framing of 60 precious pearls.

Venturi

Venturi logo

Founded: 1984
Founder: Gérard Godfroy, Claude Poiraud

Venturi Automobiles was founded in 1984 by two engineers, Gerard Godfroy and Claude Poiraud, to take over the Gran Tourismo market, challenging Bugatti, Ferrari, and Porsche.

Since the middle of the 1980s, the company has produced several roadsters and coupes with turbocharged engines. The limited-edition 400 GTR was made especially for racing and later competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The car used carbon brakes for the first time in the world, and its cutting-edge technology enabled it to top the podium several times in these prestigious races. Today Venturi is also focused on the production of electric cars.

DS

DS Logo

Founded: 2009
Founder: Citroen

DS Automobiles is the name of the luxury French automaker, which was formally established in 2009, by one of the biggest European car companies, Citroen. That was when the Citroen Group first announced the creation of a new sub-brand specializing in the production of premium cars, thereby reviving the automobile line with the same name, which was produced from 1955 to 1975. Since 2014, DS has gained independence from Citroen and began opening showrooms around the world, with a focus on the Chinese market.

Sports Car Brands

Although France is most known for its mass-market brands and Bugatti, there are several very reputable and reliable sports car manufacturers, which have been on the market for decades and only proved their professionalism and value of quality and style in the manufacturing process.

Alpine

Alpina Logo

Founded: 1955
Founder: Jean Redel

The French sports car brand Alpine was founded in 1954 by racing driver Jean Redel. The company specialized in the production of sports coupes, which were to challenge the dominance of British and Italian brands on the French car market. The first Alpine car was based on the Renault 4CV. And then the company made a name for itself with another model, the A110 of 1962, which was sold in all Renault showrooms.

Ligier

Ligier logo

Founded: 1968
Founder: Guy Ligier

Ligier is the name of a French manufacturer of cars and quad bikes, created in 1968 by the car racer and rugby player Guy Ligier. A limited number of mini-cars and quad bikes with the same name were produced under the Ligier brand. The company was originally focused on the production of sports and racing cars, but over time electric cars, city-cars, and unmanned vans have been added to them. They are not capable of high speed, but they are maneuverable on narrow city streets.

PGO

PGO logo

Founded: 1985
Founder: Gilles and Olivier Prevot

PGO is the name of a less-known French sports car manufacturer, which was established in 1985 by Gilles and Olivier Prevot. For the first years of its existence PGO, named after the first letters of its founders’ names, was specializing in the production of replicas of legendary cars of the 1920s and 1930s. At the helm of the company were two car enthusiasts, who based on budget models such as Peugeot 205 and 104 built unique reproductions of prewar Bentley, Bugatti, and a Mercedes Benz.

Mass-Market Car Brands

Elegant models of cars from the list of French brands are widely known and in demand all over the world. Every year, more than 5.5 million units of vehicles manufactured in France (or under license) are successfully sold, both directly in the country and abroad. The most famous in the world is the French cars of four brands.

Peugeot

Peugeot logo

Founded: 1896
Founder: The Peugeot Brothers

Peugeot is the legendary and the oldest car company in France, which began its way two centuries ago, in 1896. By the end of the 19th century, the Peugeot brothers designed the first car on an internal combustion engine. Today the name of the French car brand Peugeot is known all over the world. The produced compact economical crossovers and luxurious sedans are in the TOP-rating of the most demanded and popular ones. The total number of sold cars is not less than 2 million units per year. The official slogan of the company is “Emotion and Movement”.

Renault

Renault logo

Founded: 1899
Founder: The Renault Brothers

Renault is the second-oldest car brand in France. It was founded by brothers Louis, Marcel, and Fernand Renault in 1899. Cars of the popular Renault brand are sold in 120 countries around the world with a total of 2.5 million cars every year. Such popularity is provided by the ideal price to quality ratio, high performance, and original design. Today Renault is a truly international brand, having subsidiaries on all the continents and its cars on the streets of most world cities.

Citroen

Citroën Logo

Founded: 1919
Founder: Andre Citroen

Citroen is another iconic French brand. It was founded by Andre Citroen in 1919. The French industrialist created an empire, focused on the production of budget cars for the mass consumer. Exclusive models were designed for participation in racing competitions and rallies. Over the years, the brand has repeatedly passed under the control of other automobile concerns. Today it is a part of the Peugeot Group. The Citroen portfolio is represented by sedans, minivans, full-size and compact convertibles, parkettes, minivans, hatchbacks, and electric cars.

Dacia

Dacia Logo

Founded: 1966

Dacia is the name of the automotive manufacturer, which was established in Romania in 1967 and today is a part of the French Renault Group. The company’s first factory was opened in 1968 in Colibasi. One of the first models produced was a very dangerous car, which did not have even the most basic concepts of passenger and driver safety. By merging with Renault Group, the company began to produce Dacia 1300, 1310, 1400, 1410 models. All of the Dacia models were based on the Renault 12.

Aixam

Aixam logo

Founded: 1983

Aixam is the name of the French automotive industrial group, which was established in 1983. It specializes in the production of subcompact cars, light quads, produces cars and commercial vehicles. Vehicles are sold in France, Europe, and North America. The company consists of two divisions, producing cars under two brands: Aixam and Mega. The Aixam portfolio is characterized by machines of small size. The Axiam-MEGA brand also produces subcompact cars and multi trucks, which allow people who do not have a driver’s license to drive.

Microcar

Microcar Logo

Founded: 1984
Founder: Philippe Ligier

The French Microcar brand was founded in 1984 as a division of the Beneteau Group, a major sailboat manufacturer. The direction of its activity was radically different from the main company, being focused on the production of microcars.

In 2000 Microcar moved its production to a new plant. In 2008 it was acquired by LIGIER Automobiles, which merged with it to form the second-largest microcar manufacturer and the largest manufacturer of ATVs and unlicensed vehicles. Microcar and LIGIER retained their autonomy and production facilities.

Defunct Car Brands

It is not surprising at all to see some discontinued car brands in France, and this country was one of the first to start vehicle production, and its automaking history is truly intense and impressive.

Panhard

Panhard logo

Founded: 1887
Defunct: 2012

The Panhard et Levassor company, founded by Rene Panhard and Emile Levassor in 1886, is one of the first manufacturers of vehicles with internal combustion engines. At various times the company’s model lineup was represented by sports cars and racing cars, civilian cars and limousines, as well as military equipment.

Berliet

Berliet logo

Founded: 1899
Defunct: 1978

Berliner is the name of one of the oldest French car brands, which was established in 1978 by the talented car mechanic Maurice Berliet. By 1900 the mechanic from Lyon had already had 6 different cars on his account. Together with Pierre Desgouttes, they produced these cars under the Pierre Berliet 23/70 CV Desgouttes brand. Equipping with 2 and 4-liter engines with up to 12 hp has brought the model great popularity. British company Sunbeam even purchased a license for the production of one of these cars.

Corre La Licorne

Corre La Licorne logo

Founded: 1901
Defunct: 1949

The small French car brand Corre began its activities in 1901 with the production of light cars with De Dion engines. In 1906, the year of the first brand’s car release, its founder Jean Corre left the company, and it became known as Corre-La Licorne. The most compact model of the brand, 8CV, remained in production until 1912. Before the war, the company offered nine models with Ballot or Chapius-Dornier engines.

Talbot

Talbot Logo

Founded: 1903
Defunct: 1994

The French-British joint venture, which was also known as Chrysler France, was established in 1903 and stayed active for more than ninety years. Because of the poor quality of assembly, the production of cars of this brand was stopped. At the moment, the production of this brand is discontinued, and the rights to it belong to the French concern PSA.

Delage

Delage logo

Founded: 1905
Defunct: 1953

Delage is the name of the French automobile concern, which produced executive and racing cars from 1905 to 1953. The Delage factory-provided racing cars for fast riders and the upper classes in France. Competitors wished to take away from the founder Louis Delahaye its production, as a result of which the owner died in poverty. At the same time, the Delahaye factory ceased to exist 18 years later, in 1954, having failed to enrich itself on the production of cars.

Simca

Simca logo

Founded: 1934
Defunct: 1970

Simca is another French automaker, which was pretty popular in the middle of the last century. Truly popular small cars of this brand were produced in France from 1934 to 1970. The Simca portfolio of compact cars was constantly updated. But the founder Henri Théodore Pigozzi could not cope with the rapidly growing business and sold his brainchild to the giant of the French car industry Citroen. Subsequently, the rights to the brand were transferred to the Talbot automobile company.

Facel Vega

Facel Vega logo

Founded: 1939
Defunct: 1964

Facel is another French brand that did not manage to survive. Established in 1939, the company had an excellent start in the middle of the last century. The designers developed unique cars with reversible doors, as well as coupe and convertible bodies. The reason for the bankruptcy was the poor quality of the engines, which broke down during the first months of operation. New developments did not arouse consumer confidence and the firm was closed.