Since 2020, the licence-free car market in France has been growing significantly, with registrations of new vehicles up by 17% in 2020 and then by an impressive 47% in 2021 (compared to 2020), despite a slight decrease in 2022. This growth has been largely driven by the entrance of Citroën with its Ami model, which quickly rose to prominence in the market. Moreover, the market has seen a trend towards electric and higher-end models, with Aixam, Citroën, and the Ligier Group leading the charge. The market has also observed a shift towards younger customers after the minimum driving age for these vehicles dropped to 14 years old in 2018.

In terms of market size, by 2023, with an average vehicle price of 15,000 euros, the estimated market size reaches approximately 397.5 million euros. The trade balance for "Passenger cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of less than 10 persons" has remained in deficit for France, standing at -$16.548 billion in 2022, a slight improvement from -$19.365 billion in 2021. French exports mainly go to European countries, with Germany, Belgium, and Italy being key trade partners.

Exploring the Dynamics of the Licence-Free Car Market in France

The licence-free car market in France, also referred to as the voiturette or VSP market, has been witnessing robust growth recently. With over half of the European registrations, the country is at the forefront of this market segment. Registrations skyrocketed by 96% compared to 2019 figures, reaching approximately 26,500 new VSP registrations in 2023. This surge in demand comes from the younger, urbane demographic, which differs from the traditional retired, rural buyer profile of the past. The market has also seen a rising interest in electric models that coincide with the global trend towards eco-friendly transportation options.

The clear market leader is Aixam, shadowed by Ligier Group which offers Ligier and Microcar brands, and trailed by Citroën, which has recently entered the market with its Ami model. Beyond these, the market features various other competitors.

In the realm of regulations, the European Directive 168/2013 chiefly governs the manufacture and use of these vehicles, stipulating standards for vehicle weight and power, speed limits, and licensing requirements for drivers. As for the market's positioning, household car ownership has increased slightly over the last decade. The percentage of households owning at least one vehicle went up to around 85.8% in 2021, providing a growth opportunity for VSP manufacturers considering that almost 14.2% of households are non-motorized.

The recent expansion of new VSP registrations can be partly attributed to the Citroën Ami's launch. There's a prominent seasonal trend in registrations, with peaks around June-July and October and a significant drop in August. While the primary customer base for these vehicles has traditionally been older, there's a growing trend among younger drivers. Registrations among teenagers have been increasing annually by about 5%.

The French car fleet is aging, with the average vehicle being around 9.4 years old. Notably, the trend towards micro-city cars has risen, blooming from 2% to 6% of the fleet in about two decades. Moreover, manufacturers are targeting non-motorized households, finding a potential niche as the number of license holders among the youth has been declining, with only 69% of 18-24 year-olds having a driving license in 2022 compared to 77% two decades ago. The introduction of electric vehicles brings significant potential in the sector. 

Key Players in the French License-Free Car Market

The French license-free car or VSP (voiture sans permis) market is a niche yet dynamic segment within the automotive industry. Characterized by lightweight vehicles that do not require a standard driver's license to operate, the market has a few prominent manufacturers that dominate the scene.

  • Aixam : Standing tall as the market leader in France and indeed in Europe, Aixam has secured a robust position in the license-free car sector. The brand is known for its extensive range of models, and its production strongly emphasizes the "made in France" philosophy, catering to consumers who prefer domestically produced vehicles. Aixam’s focus spans from traditional internal combustion engine models to cutting-edge electric vehicles, accommodating a diverse range of customer preferences.


  • Ligier Group : Following closely behind Aixam, the Ligier Group has been a staple in the VSP market with two renowned brands under its umbrella: Ligier and Microcar. The company has enjoyed long-standing success, with a distinguished history that is marked by consistent innovation and an upmarket strategy. Ligier Group is also taking strides in the electric vehicle space with their recent electric model Myli, signaling a forward-looking approach in their product development.


  • Stellantis (Citroën) : A relative newcomer to the VSP market, Stellantis, via its Citroën brand, has made a remarkable entry with the Citroën Ami. This model has quickly become a hit, offering a fresh take on urban mobility that resonates with younger drivers and those interested in sustainable transportation solutions. The Ami's success illustrates Stellantis’s ability to disrupt established markets by leveraging its extensive resources and automotive expertise.

The VSP market also includes players like Renault, known for its now-discontinued Twizy but is expected to make a comeback with the Mobilize Duo.

Other smaller but notable French companies like Chatenet and Bellier Automobiles contribute to the market diversity with their unique offerings.

Additionally, international manufacturers such as Italian Casalini and Tezzari, along with the Chinese brand Jiayuan, add a global flavor to the market, although their presence is less pronounced compared to the dominant French companies.

These main players exemplify the varying approaches to capturing the VSP market, from specialized domestic production to adaptation by larger automotive groups. This interesting mix of companies, from longstanding producers to newer entrants, showcases a market that is both competitive and increasingly relevant in an age where urban mobility and alternative driving solutions are

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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Definition and presentation

The licence-free car market in France covers all economic activity relating to the production and sale of licence-free cars. Also known as voiturettes, quadricycles légers or VSPs, these are light vehicles with a speed limit of 45 km/hour that can be driven with just an AM license.

In 2021, France accounted for more than 50% of all licence-free car registrations in Europe, making it by far the leading European market. The French market is indeed experiencing an upward trend at the moment, as shown by the growth in the number of new VSP registrations in 2023 (+96% on 2019). This growth is driven not only by a new, young, urban clientele (whereas until the 1990s, buyers tended to be retired and rural), but also by growing interest in electric models.

The French market leader is Aixam, followed by the SME Ligier Group, which sells the Ligier and Microcar brands. Since 2020, these two historic players have been facing competition from a new entrant to the market, Citroën, whose license-free Ami model has been a runaway success. However, the market is still competitive, and there are a number of other players.

1.2 Global and European markets

Worldwide market

There are no worldwide data specifically for the "no-license" market, which is a type of vehicle that exists only in Europe. There are, however, data for the "mini-car" market, which encompasses Europe's licence-free cars, but especially ultra-compact car models such as the Fiat *** and Abarth. The minicar market was ...

1.3 Strong growth in the French market

Since recently, the French market for licence-free cars has been growing strongly. Indeed, the number of carts sold between **** and **** has almost doubled, rising from **,*** to **,***[***], with **,*** vehicles sold in * years .

There are two main reasons for this leap in sales volume:

the dazzling success of the Citroën Ami, which ...

1.4 Foreign trade in cars

The customs product nomenclature does not allow us to analyze foreign trade in license-free cars alone. It does, however, allow us to study the trade balance for code ****: "Passenger cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of less than ** persons", providing a clearer picture of trade in this ...

2 Demand analysis

2.1 The French car fleet

The proportion of motorized households in France has increased slightly over the last decade. Indeed, while the proportion of households owning at least one vehicle in **** was **.*%, this proportion will reach **.*% in ****, one of the highest rates ever recorded. According to the ONISR, the * main reasons given by non-motorized households for ...

2.2 Unlicensed car registrations

After a drop in the number of new vehicles sold between **** and **** (***), the number of small car registrations remained stable between **** and ****. However, since ****, the market has seen strong growth. Indeed, new small car registrations rose by **% in **** compared to ****. In ****, growth accelerated, with new PSV registrations up **% on ****, despite a ...

2.3 Obtaining and losing a license: two major determinants of demand

Obtaining a license

Obtaining a license is an important determinant of demand, insofar as the lower the number of licenses issued, the greater the potential customer base for licence-free cars.

The graph below shows the evolution of the number of permits issued by category between **** and ****:

The number of B permits ...

2.4 Young people, the new target group for manufacturers of licence-free cars

Since the law lowered the age limit for driving without a license (***), the market for cars without a license has seen its audience get younger[***].

As proof, according to Marie-Laure Nivot, Market Intelligence Manager at AAA Data, registrations for small cars among teenagers (***) are increasing by *% per year. According to this ...

2.5 Electricity and car-sharing, the future of PSV demand?

The electric motorization of vehicles is a fundamental trend that is set to profoundly change the landscape of the automotive industry, both globally and nationally, over the next decade. However, if we look at consumers' intentions, only around a third intend to buy an electric vehicle in the next few years ...

3 Market structure

3.1 Sector value chain

Below is a simplified value chain for the licence-free car market:

Source: ****

Manufacturers (***) are the players in the first and fourth stages of the above value chain. It is they who design the vehicles in the design office, and assemble the parts. However, the manufacture of components and parts is for ...

3.2 The main manufacturers on the market are French

The three manufacturers selling the most small cars in France are French. In fact, in ****, Aixam (***) will dominate the market. note that Ligier sales also include those of the Microcar brand, which Ligier acquired in ****. Citroën completes the podium with **** models sold. It's interesting to note that while Citroën ...

3.3 Production and distribution

Two types of player can be distinguished in the licence-free car market:

Specialized players (***), producing only licence-free cars and favoring"made in France" production. Major generalist automotive groups (***), who have diversified their offer to reach new customers. The latter prefer to outsource production. Renault withdrew from the market after production of ...

4 Offer analysis

4.1 Offer typology

The table below shows a comparison of several models distributed by different manufacturers. We can see that there are often two types of offer: buying the vehicle or leasing it. Unsurprisingly, electric versions are also more expensive.

We can also point to the move upmarket and diversification of the range, with ...

4.2 Supply trends: Rising prices, upscaling, vehicle electrification and car-sharing

Rising prices and a move upmarket

The price of licence-free cars is tending to rise. Indeed, some models are more expensive (***)[***] Secondly, the licence-free car market, like that of the automotive industry as a whole, is also affected by rising raw material prices and the semiconductor crisis, which is leading to ...

5 Regulations

5. Regulations

The French market for licence-free cars is mainly governed by European Directive ***/****. The main legislation concerning the vehicle itself is listed below (***):

Unladen weight limited to *** kg Diesel or electric engine limited to * kW Speed must be less than ** km/h Engine capacity must be less than ** cm³. Number of seats ...

List of charts

  • Global mini-car market size
  • Worldwide sales of minicars by engine type
  • Change in the proportion of households owning one or more vehicles
  • Evolution of the weight of range levels in the passenger car fleet
  • Number of new license-free car registrations
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Latest news

Microlino enters the booming microcar market - 07/09/2023
  • Prices for small license-free vehicles, diesel and especially electric: from 8,000 to 20,000 euros.
  • Sales of licence-free cars in France ten years ago: between 10,000 and 12,000 a year; today: around 20,000 a year.
  • Microlino price: between 18,000 and 23,000 euros.
  • Microlino production: 100 units per week
  • Orders for the Citroën Ami in three years: 37,000. Price of the Citroën Ami: between 7,990 and 10,490 euros.
  • Ligier electric vehicle prices: from 13,000 to 17,000 euros.
  • Aixam vehicles: from 17,000 to 20,000 euros.
Licence-free vehicles: Aixam-Mega invests 30 million euros to double production - 30/08/2023

Aixam-Mega invests 30 million euros to double production capacity by 2025. Aixam-Mega plans to sell around 3,000 electric license-free vehicles by 2023. Increase in the number of vehicles sold by Aixam-Mega: 16,100 in 2021, 18,300 in 2022, 19,500 in 2023. Aixam-Mega sales target: between 25,000 and 30,000 vehicles by 2025. Aixam-Mega is the European leader in this market.

Aixam-Mega doubles its production capacity - 22/05/2023
  • Aixam-Mega is the national market leader for licence-free vehicles.
  • Construction of three production sites in the Drôme region to increase production capacity.
  • Annual production capacity estimated at 30,000 vehicles after expansion.
  • Investment of over 20 million euros in the three production units
  • Estimated sales of 19,500 vehicles in 2021 and 18,300 vehicles in 2020 (including 7% LCVs).
  • Sales in 2020: 200 million euros.
  • Workforce: 300 employees.
  • Entry into the electric vehicle market since 2003.
  • Nearly half of sales to young customers.
Ligier unveils Myli, its 100% electric licence-free car - 07/05/2023
  • European leader in licence-free cars: Ligier Group
  • Ligier's first electric model: Myli, available in May Myli range: between 63 and 192 km
  • Myli price: between 12,500 and 17,100 euros
  • Number of licence-free car registrations in France in 2022: 22,500
  • Number of license-free car registrations in France in 2019: 13,400
  • Ligier sales in 2022: 192 million euros (+9% year-on-year)
  • Myli sales target for 2023: 2,000 units
  • Myli production plant: Boufféré, Vendée
Ligier launches top-of-the-range electric licence-free car - 11/04/2023
  • New electric model: Myli Entry-level price: 12,499 euros (excluding 900-euro bonus)
  • Myli range: 65 to 192 kilometers
  • Price for Myli's highest trim level: 18,799 euros
  • French licence-free car registrations in 2019: 13,400, in 2020: 22,500
  • Ligier production target: 40,000 vehicles a year within two years (compared with 30,000 today)
  • myli production site: Boufféré, Vendée, France
  • Number of Ligier employees: 420
  • ligier sales in 2020: 192 million euros

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Bellier Automobiles
Ligier Groupe

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