13 Top French Car Brands [As of 2024]

France is the 12th largest automobile company worldwide and the 3rd-largest in Europe (after Germany and Spain) by unit production. In 2023, the country produced 1,505,076 motor vehicles, of which 68.2% were passenger cars. 

The two biggest automobile brands in France are Renault and Peugeot. In 2023, Renault sold 277,914 vehicles, and Peugeot sold 241,500 vehicles in the domestic market. [1][2]

France’s electric car market is still primarily dominated by local brands, with Renault selling about 6,000 more EVs than Tesla. 

 The influence of these local brands extends beyond mere numbers. They have shaped automotive trends, introduced groundbreaking technology, and consistently pushed the boundaries of automotive design and engineering. 

In this article, we will delve into the world of French automotive excellence, exploring the top French car brands, their business stats, key models, and their enduring impact on the global automotive industry. 

Did you know?

In 2021, about 1.66 million new passenger cars and 483,279 commercial vehicles were sold in France, a 0.5% and 7.42% increase compared to the previous year. Nearly 41% of French consumers reported not planning to purchase a car, with another 19% planning to buy a used vehicle. [3]

9. DS Automobiles

DS AutomobilesDS 4 E-Tense

Founded in 2009
Parent: Stellantis
Production Output: 50,000 units (2022)

DS Automobiles is a premium automotive marque that combines tradition with innovation to offer a unique driving experience. It has seen a steady growth in its sales, particularly in the European market. 

In 2020, the company produced about 40,700 passenger vehicles. Among all models manufactured that year, the DS7 Crossback had the largest output, with nearly 26,000 new units. 

In 2022, DS Automobiles delivered 49,999 units, a 17.1% increase from the previous year. Needless to say, France remained its best-selling market. [4]

DS Automobiles is heavily investing in electrification, with a significant portion of its lineup available as electric or plug-in hybrid variants. Popular models like the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense and DS 7 Crossback E-Tense contribute to the company’s goal of having a fully electrified range by 2025.

Since its inception, the brand has established an exclusive distribution network, including 400 DS stores across 41 countries.

8. Delage

DelageDelage D12

Founded in 1905
Majority shareholder: Laurent Tapie (CEO)

Delage is a luxury automobile company that targets affluent clientele who seek both luxury and performance in their vehicles. The company has had varying levels of success over its history, with periods of prosperity followed by challenges, especially during world conflicts and economic downturns. 

While Delage ceased operations in 1953, the association “Les Amis de Delage,” along with the owner of the Delage brand, revived the company in 2019 with the introduction of the Delage D12.

The Delage D12 is a hybrid street-legal sports car featuring a 7.6-liter V12 engine. The company plans to produce only 30 units, each priced at $2.17 million. [5]

It will be interesting to see how the revived Delage navigates the modern automotive landscape. Only time will tell whether they can carve out a niche in the luxury automobile market.

7. Ligier

Founded in 1968
Production Output: 16,500 units (2023)
Annual Revenue: $212.76 million (2023)

Founded by former racing driver Guy Ligier, the brand initially focused on producing sports and racing cars. During the 1970s and 1980s, its name became synonymous with Formula One racing. 

Today, Ligier has expanded its production to include a range of vehicles, such as light quadricycles and microcars. Among their popular models are the Ligier JS50, available in both internal combustion and electric powertrains, the upscale Ligier JS60 with refined aesthetics and improved performance, and the fully electric, modular utility vehicle Ligier Pulse 4.

In 2022, Ligier recorded $193.87 million in annual revenue with a net income of $10.1 million. It operates four distribution subsidiaries in Germany, Spain, Italy, and Austria.

In 2023, the company manufactured about 16,500 vehicles, maintaining its pride in 100% French production across two manufacturing sites. It employs 575 workers, distributed almost equally across these two production sites. [6]

6. Alpine

AlpineAlpine A110R

Founded in 1955
Parent: Renault Group
Production Output: 4,328 units (2023)

Jean Rédélé, a French racing driver and entrepreneur, founded Alpine with the aim of building lightweight and agile sports cars. Soon, the company gained recognition for its success in motorsports, particularly rallying, where Alpine vehicles won numerous awards and championships. 

In 1976, Alpine merged with Renault Sport, and the manufacturing of Alpine-badged variants ceased in 1995. However, it restarted in 2017 with the introduction of the new Alpine A110, a mid-engined rear-wheel drive coupe powered by a Nissan-derived 1.8-liter turbocharged engine.

This marked a new chapter in Alpine’s history — the company has renewed its focus on creating sports cars for enthusiasts. 

In 2023, Alpine delivered 4,328 cars, a 22.1% increase from 2022. The A110 became the most popular sports coupe in Europe, particularly in Germany and Belgium, where sales increased by 34% and 32%, respectively. While Alpine is not yet profitable, it plans to break even by 2026. [7]

Alpine intends to develop its own high-performance platform for its future 100% electric car lineup. The company has set an ambitious goal of achieving net-zero carbon production by 2030. [8]

5. Aixam

Car companies in France - Aixam

Founded in 1983
Ownership: Polaris Industries (44%)
Production Output: 18,300 units (2022)
Annual Revenue: $197.61 million (2022)

Aixam is a well-known name in the European automotive market. It produces small, lightweight vehicles for urban mobility.  

Aixam’s lineup includes a variety of microcars, typically with engine sizes between 400cc and 600cc and power outputs limited to 5-15 horsepower. These cars generally have a maximum speed of about 45 km/h (to comply with regulatory requirements for quadricycles). 

Popular models include the Aixam City, Aixam Coupe, and Aixam Crossover. Aixam has also developed electric vehicles, such as the e-Aixam range, which provide zero-emission driving and are ideal for city commuting.

In 2022, the company demonstrated its strong presence in the microcar market by delivering 18,300 vehicles. They generated $197.61 million in annual revenue with a net income of $41.60 million. [9]

Aixam has invested nearly $32.4 million to double its production capacity by 2025, aiming to achieve sales of 25,000 to 30,000 vehicles by then. [10]

4. Bugatti

Founded in 1909
Parent: Bugatti Rimac
Production Output: 80 units (2022)
Annual Revenue: $345.14 million (2021)

Bugatti occupies a unique position in the ultra-luxury automotive market, competing with brands like Ferrari, Koenigsegg, and Pagani. Each model is highly customizable, allowing buyers to tailor their vehicle to personal tasks with bespoke features and finishes. 

Like most ultra-luxury car brands, Bugatti produces a limited number of vehicles each year to ensure exclusivity. For example, the total production run of the Bugatti Chiron is capped at 500 units, distributed over several years.

In 2020, the company delivered 77 vehicles worldwide and announced an increase in operating profit for the third consecutive year.

In November 2021, Rimac Automobili, a Croatian electric hypercar manufacturer, formed a joint venture with Porsche to take control of Bugatti. That year, Bugatti sold 63 cars, generating an annual revenue of $345.14 million and a net income of $9.07 million. [11]

In 2022, Bugatti sold 80 new hyper sport cars to both existing and new customers worldwide. [12]

3. Citroën

Founded in 1919
Parent: Stellantis
Production Output: 796,868 units (2021)
Annual Revenue: $16.1 billion (2022)

Established in 1919, Citroën is one of the oldest automotive companies in France. Citroën’s first car, Type A, was the first mass-produced car in Europe.

Today, it offers a broad range of vehicles, from compact cars to SUVs and commercial vehicles. The brand is known for balancing innovation with practicality. 

In 2021, Citroën sold 796,868 vehicles across 90+ countries, a 7% increase from the previous year. Of these, 624,140 sales came from Europe, 61,695 from the Middle East and Africa, 48,615 from South America, 41,391 from China, and 8,665 from India and Asia Pacific region. [13]

France, Italy, and Spain emerged as the top-performing markets with the highest registrations. The best-selling model was the C3 small hatch, which represented nearly 25% of all sales.

In 2022, the company achieved $16.1 billion in revenue worldwide. The SUV segment contributed 42% of Citroën’s total revenue, followed by the small car segment, which accounted for 15% of the total revenue. [14]

2. Peugeot

Founded in 1810
Parent: Stellantis
Production Output: 1,124,200+ units (2023)
Annual Revenue: $26 billion (2022)

Peugeot is considered the oldest car company in the world. It initially started as a family-run business producing coffee mills and bicycles, and later diversified into automobile manufacturing in 1889. 

Today, Peugeot manufactures a range of vehicles, including hatchbacks, sedans, SUVs, and light commercial vehicles. It caters to various segments, from affordable compact cars to premium models.

The brand has a strong global presence, with more than 10,000 points of contact and significant markets in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. [15]

In 2022, Peugeot generated about $26 billion in annual revenue, with approximately 33% coming from the SUV segment and another 33% from the minivan segment. [16]

In 2023, the company recorded 1,124,268 registrations worldwide, a 6% increase compared to the previous year. About 28.2% of sales came from outside Europe. [17]

The Peugeot 208 was their best-selling model in the European market, while its electric version, the Peugeot e-208, emerged as a leader in Europe.

1. Renault

Founded in 1899
Parent: Renault Group
Production Output: 2,235,000 units (2023)
Annual Revenue: $56.78 billion (2023)

Renault is known for its contributions to both the mass-market and performance car segments. Its first car, the Renault Voiturette, established its reputation for reliability and performance.

During the early 20th century, the company expanded into commercial vehicles and luxury cars. However, they have always focused on combining practicality with innovation and affordability. 

With 2,235,000 vehicle sales, Renault is one of the top automotive companies in Europe. It holds more than 25% market share in France. Its most popular model, Clio, emerged as the best-selling domestic car with 111,741 registrations in 2023. [18]

In 2023, Renault generated $56.78 billion in revenue, a 13.1% increase from 2022. Its free cash flow stood at $3.25 billion, compared to $0.98 billion in 2022. The return on capital employed (ROCE) more than doubled, reaching 28.5% in 2023 compared to 12.6% in 2022. [19]

While sales of its subsidiary Dacia brand increased by 14.7% to 658,321 vehicles, Alpine grew even faster, with a 22.1% increase and 4,328 vehicles sold in 2023.

Other Small Car Companies in France 

10. PGO

French Car Brands - PGOPGO Speedster II

Founded in 1980
Ownership: Al-Sayer Group (51%)
Annual Revenue: $1 million  

PGO is a niche car company that produces unique, hand-built sports cars with retro design. Their models are often inspired by classic car designs but with modern technology and performance. 

PGO Speedster II, for example, is inspired by the classic Porsche 356 Speedster. It is powered by a four-cylinder engine and features a retro design with modern enhancement. Another model, the PGO Cévennes, is also inspired by the classic Porsche 356. Equipped with a turbocharged engine, it features an open-top design for an authentic roadster experience.

According to Statista, PGO Automobile employs 50 workers and generates nearly $1 million in annual revenue. [20]

11. Venturi

Founded in 1984
Ownership: Gildo Pallanca Pastor

Venturi is known for its pioneering efforts in EV technology and its involvement in high-performance, experimental EVs. The company often engages in special projects to showcase the capabilities of Evs, including participating in high-profit events like Formula E and setting world records. 

For example, their experimental car, Venturi Buckeye Bullet, has set several world speed records for electric vehicles, including a top speed of over 549 km/h (341 mph). [21]

Unlike other car companies, Venturi Automobiles has made significant strides in space exploration through its strategic partner, Venturi Astrolab. In 2023, Venturi Astrolab signed an agreement with SpaceX to send the FLEX (Flexible Logistics and Exploration) rover to the Moon. 

In 2024, Venturi Astrolab was awarded a NASA contract worth up to $1.9 billion to support the development of a lunar terrain vehicle. [22]

12. De La Chapelle

De La ChapelleDe La Chapelle Type 55 Roadster 

Founded in 1976
Ownership: Xavier de la Chapelle

De La Chapelle produces high-quality replicas of classic cars, as well as its own unique models. They blend traditional craftsmanship with modern technology to create cars that offer a nostalgic driving experience with contemporary performance and reliability. 

While the company began by creating high-quality replicas of iconic Bugatti models from the 1930s, such as Bugatti Type 57S and Bugatti Type 55, they soon expanded their lineup to include original designs and custom-built vehicles. [23]

One example is the De La Chapelle Roadster, which combines retro styling with modern performance.  

13. Motor Development International (MDI)

MDI AirPodMDI AirPod

Founded in 1991
Ownership: Guy Nègre

MDI develops air-powered vehicles, a friendly alternative to traditional internal combustion engines. These vehicles use compressed air stored in tanks. When released, the air expands and drives pistons or turbines to generate motion. 

The company has developed a small, three-wheeled city car called the MDI AirPod for urban mobility. However, it hasn’t hit the market yet. MDI claims that the AirPod has a range of 100-150 km on a full tank of compressed air and can achieve a top speed of 80 km/h (50 mph). [24]

MDI plans to license its technology to other manufacturers. They have already formed partnerships with major automotive companies, including Tata Motors in India, to bring such vehicles to market.

Read More 

14 Top American Car Brands  

14 Top British Car Brands  

14 Rarest Cars In The World  

Sources Cited and Additional References

  1. Press Release, Strong acceleration in sales in 2023, Renault Group
  2. Vehicles & Road Traffic, Number of Peugeot cars sold in France, Statista
  3. Vehicles & Road Traffic, Car purchase intention in France, Statista
  4. Glenn Brooks, DS 9 – why Stellantis sees value in a French luxury sedan, JustAuto
  5. The D12, The internationally awarded D12, Delage
  6. Key Figures, The group continues its growth, Ligier
  7. News Release, Alpine sold over 4,000 sports cars in 2023, Motor1
  8. Press Release, Alpine’s Revolution is underway, Renault Group
  9. Company Overview, Aixam-Mega turnover and status, Infonet
  10. Company Overview, Aixam financial data and news, Businesscoot
  11. Company Overview, Bugatti Automobiles turnover and status, Infonet
  12. Newsroom, 2022 – The best year in Bugatti’s modern history, Bugatti
  13. Derek Fung, Who won the global automotive sales race in 2021?, Car Expert
  14. Market Insights report, Citroën: market data & analysis, Statista
  15. Peugeot, The brand is present in 160+ countries with more than 10,000 points of contact, Stellantis
  16. Market Insights report, Peugeot: market data & analysis, Statista
  17. Stock quote, Stellantis: Peugeot sales up +6% in 2023, MarketScreener
  18. Car Sales Stats, 2023 Global: Renault Group worldwide car sales (including Dacia, Alpine), BestSellingCars
  19. Financial Guidance, Historical 2023 results – strong improvement of all financials, Renault Group
  20. Passenger Cars, Revenue for PGO is projected to reach $1m in 2024, Statista
  21. Buckeye Bullet, All Buckeye Bullet vehicles are electrically powered, Wikipedia
  22. News Release, Venturi Astrolab awarded by NASA, Venturi
  23. History, The beginning of the marque: Guy and Carl, the de la Chapelle, De La Chapelle
  24. AirPod 2.0, Introducing AirPod 2 with 100% compressed air engine, MDI
Written by
Varun Kumar

I am a professional technology and business research analyst with more than a decade of experience in the field. My main areas of expertise include software technologies, business strategies, competitive analysis, and staying up-to-date with market trends.

I hold a Master's degree in computer science from GGSIPU University. If you'd like to learn more about my latest projects and insights, please don't hesitate to reach out to me via email at [email protected].

View all articles
Leave a reply