French Car Brands

French Car Brands

France’s automotive industry is one of the oldest in the world and ranks among the top three, behind only the specialized industries of Germany and Spain. It cannot be otherwise since the birthplace of steam engines is a potential reference point for the entire global automotive industry. That is, we can say that transportation technology literally “came out” of France.

The proof of the leading position is a significant number of well-known brands abroad, whose cars are a coveted mark of prestige. Renault, Peugeot, Citroën, Valeo, Bugatti – these are only a small part of the popular brands on whose cars half of the world travels.

What are French car brands?

The most prominent representatives of the French car industry are two companies: Groupe PSA and Renault Group, which own the main brands. However, the former was abolished in 2021, becoming part of Stellantis NV Corporation, which is registered in the Netherlands. So now the Citroën, Peugeot, and DS brands are owned by a Dutch manufacturer, although they remain French.

At the same time, there are far fewer French car brands than British ones, as the French are not quantity-oriented. There are only two major representatives of the country’s automobile market, which have taken all the state reins of the French car industry. These are PSA Peugeot Citroën, which produces Citroen and Peugeot cars, and Renault, which produces the Dacia and Renault passenger car brands.

Supercar Brands

This category is represented by a single-car brand – Bugatti. The key features of its models are the atmosphere of luxury, ergonomics, beauty, and convenience. In addition, they are characterized by exceptional design and technical characteristics. Dynamic performance is particularly high, as supercars are the top segment of a broad class of sports cars. Engine power is calculated in hundreds of horsepower, and the maximum speed is 300 km / h. Naturally, the cost is also maximum. And another thing: For all representatives of this category, exceptional tuning is important, which they can boast about.


Bugatti Logo

The automaker specializes in cars production: design, assembly, tuning, production, and sale. The company entered the market in 1909, firmly occupying its niche despite the founder – Ettore Bugatti, a designer with Italian roots. Having passed a very difficult path, the brand survived and came into the Volkswagen Group’s possession (in 1998), which practically revived it and breathed a second life into the iron “shell,” under which unprecedented power, beauty, and grace are hidden. The brand is currently called Bugatti Automobiles SAS.

Luxury Car Brands

The French luxury car sector is represented by just one brand, Citroën. It designs and assembles elegant cars that please the eye and are characterized by increased driving comfort. It is this criterion that lies at the heart of the French car industry. The French are characterized by a clear combination of beauty and practicality: it is extremely important to them how transport equipment drives and how it looks. DS models are characterized by true French chic.


DS Logo

The premium brand is created by Groupe PSA and is a sub-brand of Citroën. It was formed in 2009 under an abbreviated name that, depending on the source, stands for “Distinctive Series” or “Different Spirit.” Besides, there is another meaning hidden in the dry “DS.” In French, the two letters are pronounced “déesse,” which translates to “goddess.” In 2015, the luxury series became an independent entity. Citroën develops the latest cars under the DS brand and is no longer its line.

Mass Market Brands

Although the mass segment of French car brands is not as widely represented as in other countries, it is on the verge of exclusivity. After all, the French know a lot about beauty, so their mass-market cars look no worse than luxury cars. This category includes the three most widespread companies in the world, which are familiar to everyone. They are Citroën, Peugeot, and Renault. They occupy the first three places in the domestic market.


Renault Logo

This brand appeared at the end of the XIX century and was created by three Renault brothers – Louis, Marcel, and Fernand. The first of them was an engineer, so he actively got involved in business, raising the brand to a high level. Today, it is a giant of the world automotive industry: it occupies the ninth place in the top ten. It is part of the group of the same name, which owns several subsidiaries and has established joint production with enterprises in different countries. The headquarters of Renault is located near Paris, in the city of Boulogne-Billancourt.


Peugeot Logo

The roots of this automobile company go back to the beginning of the XIX century and are associated with the steelworks. Its founder was Armand Peugeot, who first produced saw blades and then bicycles. It is the largest structure: it occupies the second place in the ranking of European automakers, second only to the German concern Volkswagen. In addition, the quality and impeccable design of its cars have been repeatedly recognized: it has six European “Car of the Year” awards. Today, the brand belongs to the PSA Peugeot Citroën concern.


Citroen Logo

Citroën cars have been on the roads since the first half of the 20th century when the company owned by André-Gustave Citroën produced its first products. Today, it is a giant of the French automotive industry and has been part of the Stellantis Group since 2021. The company’s head office is located in the city of St. Ouen-sur-Seine. Apart from manufacturing mass-market cars, the brand is known for its innovative technologies used in various car models. For example, it invented swiveling headlights to improve visibility on the roads, was the first to use self-leveling hydropneumatic suspension and much more.

Other Brands

The French automotive industry is focused on a small but incredibly high-quality segment of passenger cars and sports cars. Preference is given to elegant variants with high-tech stuffing and a powerful engine under an impeccable hood. Therefore, French cars are not only on the internal roads of their country – they are no less in demand abroad. By the way, some companies have production sites abroad, where they produce affordable and no less luxurious samples. They include Dacia, a brand located in Romania. Other automakers offering high-class transportation equipment are also known.


Alpine Logo

The company has been producing sports and racing cars since 1955. It is owned by Renault, its sub-brand, and is located in Dieppe, France. Jean Redelé (its founder) has owned a collection of passenger cars from the very beginning. Moreover, the company has been closely associated with Renault throughout its history. It achieved success in motorsports thanks to a sports car produced just after the Second World War. It was the Renault 4CV. In 1976, the French auto giant completely absorbed Alpine, bringing the brand into Renault Sport. The brand ceased to exist in 1995, but in 2017, it was relaunched with its new model, the Alpine A110 sports car.


Dacia Logo

It is a Romanian automobile brand based in Mioveni (Arges County). It has been in existence since 1966 and produces affordable economy cars. The brand got its name after the historical region of Romania, but it was first known as UAP (Uzina de Autoturisme Pitești). The first car of the Dacia 1300 series appeared in August 1969. It was presented at exhibitions in Paris and Bucharest. In 1970, the passenger car was released in two variants: 1300 (standard) and 1300L (luxury class). Four years later, the plant released the next version of the car – the 1301 Lux Super with exclusive interior trim, heated rear window, and two-way mirrors. In 2021, Dacia became a division of Renault Dacia-Lada.


Aixam Logo

The French mini-car manufacturer is based in Aix-les-Bains (Savoie region), where it emerged in 1983 after buying Arola. In 2013, the subcompact car brand came under the control of the American company Polaris Industries, which expressed a desire to acquire Aixam-Mega from Axa Private Equity. The deal took place. Currently, the Aixam A.7XX line of cars and the Smart micro car are produced under this brand. Some models of the brand are limited in speed and can accelerate only up to 45 km/h, which makes them an inexpensive group of urban transport. Moreover, in some countries, they can be driven without a driver’s license, as these small cars do not belong to the speed category.


Ligier Logo

The company was founded in 1968 on the initiative of former racing driver and rugby player Guy Ligier. It specializes in the production of mini cars for auto racing. In addition, the brand is known for its active participation in the Formula 1 World Championship from 1976 to 1996. In addition, the company established a partnership with Automobiles Martini and produced several prototypes of sports cars under the joint division Ligier-Martini. The headquarters of the automobile brand is located in Abré (France).


Microcar Logo

This French company has been around since 1984, producing small cars. In 2000, it moved to a new factory, built on a customized project, and eight years later, it became part of Ligier Automobiles. This merger resulted in Europe’s second-largest manufacturer of microcars and minicars that do not require a driver’s license to drive. At the same time, each company (Ligier and Microcar) retained its own identity.


PGO (1985-Present)

A French automobile brand is operating in the segment of exclusive sports cars. It was founded by three brothers, Prevost, lovers of everything related to cars. Their names became the basis of the company name – P (Patrick), G (Gilles), and O (Olivier). In 1980, the company specialized in the production of replicas but later moved to the production of customized models. The first to appear was a two-seat sports car in retro design. It was presented in 2000. Later, more than half of the company’s rights were transferred to the Al-Sayer group, which allowed it to revitalize the work, expand the model range, and add the Cévennes roadster.


Venturi Logo

The French luxury electric car manufacturer came on the market in 1984 thanks to Claude Poirot and Gérard Godefroy. The company is based in Fontvieille (Monaco). It designs, assembles, and sells its products. In 2001, the brand was acquired by millionaire Gildo Pallanca Pastor, who repositioned the automotive industry to electric motors, resulting in the Fétish model.

Defunct Car Brands

In the category of former French brands, there are quite a few interesting manufacturers. They clearly demonstrate the trends of the automotive industry and illustrate the evolution of the tastes of the population. But, of course, each enterprise was closed for individual reasons. Of the recently closed companies, it is worth highlighting Panhard (who worked until 2012), Hommell (who produced sports cars until 2003), and Talbot (who ceased operations in 1994). However, many other representatives of the French car industry have not stopped and continue to actively move forward at the international level.


Panhard Logo

Panhard & Levassor, named after its founders, was the first company in the world to sell cars with an internal combustion engine. It began its activities in 1887, and two years later, with the support of Armand Peugeot, began production of “self-propelled carts.” The company used internal combustion engines of its own design, as it received the right to produce them personally from the creator – the German engineer Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler.

In 1891, the company switched to mass production of machines. It constantly modernized them, introducing many new models that won in races. In the post-war period, nothing changed: the company continued to develop in the chosen direction until, in 1965, it became part of Citroen. The new owner reoriented the brand to the production of military equipment. The last passenger car, decorated with a round emblem Panhard with a monogram of letters “PL,” came out in 1967


Hommell Logo

The Hommell brand was named in honor of its creator, car shop owner, and auto racer Michel Hommell. His first sports car, presented in 1990, was well received by the public, so it was decided to start mass production. Four models with different characteristics were produced, but in 2003, the company closed down due to financial problems. It used a rather unusual logo for an automaker: three golden rice ears in a blue gradient circle.


Talbot Logo

Talbot is an international company that manufactures cars in both France and the UK. The fact is that it was originally intended to sell French-made cars to the British. But the Count, who financed this project, was so inspired by the success that he decided to organize their production at home, in the British Kingdom. Foreign factories stopped producing Talbot cars in 1985. Problems arose in France: the quality of cars was not very high, and no one wanted to buy them. Passenger cars left the market in the late 1980s. The brand is now discontinued, although PSA Peugeot-Citroèn still owns it. The alliance wanted to revive Talbot, giving the brand new life and its famous blue-and-white T logo connected to a ring set against a red circle. But this project never materialized.


Berliet Logo

The French automobile manufacturing company Berliet was founded in 1899 by automobile designer Marius Berliet, a lover of technical experiments and self-driving cars. At first, the company produced passenger cars, but in the post-war period, it changed the direction of activity, switching to the production of buses and trucks. In 1974, the company became a part of the Citroen truck division. Four years later, the company Berliet was bought out by Renault and closed. Its models became the basis for a new series of Renault. The Berliet name and logo were no longer used. The brand badge became minimalist. It looked like an arrow piercing a balloon but consisted of three simple geometric shapes: a triangle, a circle, and a rectangle.


Simca Logo

Simca is an abbreviation of the full name of the company Societe Industrielle de Mechanique et Carrosserie Automobile. The company was founded in 1934 for the production of FIAT cars. In 1951, the production of models of its own design began. They proved incredibly popular and allowed the company to acquire a new factory. Despite this, 15% of Simca was sold to Chrysler. In 1970, the American concern completely bought the French brand, creating on its basis a division of Chrysler-France. The emblem of Simca had the form of a quadrangular shield divided into two segments. At the top, on a blue background, was depicted Swift. The lower segment was red and contained the brand name.

Facel Vega

Facel Vega Logo

The Facel Vega automobile company was founded in 1954 on the basis of the FACEL steelworks, which in the past produced bodies for Ford, Simca, and Panhard models. Car production continued for ten years, but the owner was forced to liquidate the brand due to its bankruptcy. And all because of Pont-a-Mousson engines: they were so unreliable that they ruined the reputation of Facel Vega. It was because of them that the round yellow and black emblem with a big red letter “F,” a small “V,” and a gray ring with six stars, and the inscription “FACEL VEGA PARIS” did not arouse much confidence among buyers.


Delage Logo

French engineer Louis Delage started his own automobile company in 1905. Delage assembled stylish and fast cars that made strides in motorsports. But during the financial crisis, demand for them fell dramatically. The owner was forced to sell the rights to the brand to its competitor, the Delahaye Company. The new management fired Louis, and soon, he died in poverty. The Delage brand existed only until 1954. The only reminder of it is a blue badge with an oval on which its name is written in white letters.

Corre La Licorne

Corre La Licorne Logo

Corre La Licorne was formerly known as Corre. It added the second part of the name, inspired by the achievements of a racer whose family crest was depicted in the form of a mythical animal – a unicorn. It also decorated the logo of the automaker: the designers made it gold and placed it inside a red circle, supplemented with a ring frame in the form of a belt with the inscription “LA LICORNE.” The company closed in 1949 as the automobile market underwent global changes related to the “Ponce Plan.”

Who owns French car manufacturers?

The Renault Group owns several French car brands. We are talking, in particular, about Renault and Alpine. DS, Peugeot, and Citroën are recently owned by the Dutch corporation Stellantis NV. And the Bugatti brand of hypercars is owned by the German company Volkswagen AG.

What is the famous car of France?

France has its famous car brands – not just one, and several. These are Peugeot, Renault, Citroen / DS, Bugatti, Alpine.

What is the most popular French car?

As the statistics for the first quarter of 2021 show, Peugeot is the best-selling car brand in France. If we talk about a specific model, Peugeot 208 is still in the lead in its domestic market, followed by its closest competitor – Renault Clio. Toyota Yaris is the most popular among foreign cars.

What is the most luxurious French car?

The most luxurious French cars are produced by DS, which is legally a sub-brand of Citroën and, together with it, is part of Stellantis NV. In addition, Bugatti has a line of luxury cars.