Baptiste, 17, posed proudly in front of a brand new Ligier sports version bought used € 10,500 with black imitation leather seats, Bluetooth and a touch screen.
“It’s so cool,” said the private high school student in the chic rue Paradis in Marseille, where such cars cost ten cents.
“I’ve been waiting for it for three years. I wanted to have my own autonomy, ”he said, adding that public transport was painful from his suburban home.
Despite the “sport” label, the small caveat is that the maximum permitted speed of all carts is 28 mph and cannot be driven on the freeway or expressway. However, they’re cheap to run, light up blazingly fast, and are easy to park.
Once considered laughable little “yoghurt pots” mainly for an aging rural population too old for a real car or who may have lost their license due to drink driving, carts have become a must have accessory for driving. wealthy youth of France.
“The brands have copied the design of models that appeal to adults,” said Stéphanie Lecocq, director of Pecre sans permis, a company selling spare parts for cars without a license.
Sales have accelerated since France introduced legislation in 2014 making these four-wheeled vehicles legal for motorists 14 years and older as long as the power does not exceed 6 kW.
“In the end, it’s a moped with a body”
Franck Bellavia, VSP salesman in Marseille, specifies: “Our historical clientele consisted mainly of people without a license or with disabilities. The trend has reversed and now we are selling to young people. In the end, it’s a moped with bodywork, which reassures parents.
“We have seen a snowball effect and now high school and college parking lots are looking more and more like showrooms” given the number of models on display, he added.
According to Ludovic Dirand, commercial director of the Ligier group, some 14,087 cars of this type were sold between January and August 2021 against 11,235 over the same period in 2020 and sales have doubled over the past five years. Half of the approximately 25,000 vehicles sold annually in Europe find buyers in France. The Italian market is also booming.
While it is still a niche market, the “P-less”, as the French now call the small car, is becoming more and more affordable, especially since Citroën launched the Ami last year. , an electric cart at the relatively low price of € 6,900. . According to the French car manufacturer, 77% of buyers are “multi-motorized” families with two teenagers and “more than 40% of users are under 18”.
“It’s much more affordable and more practical to have an electric vehicle than to go to the gas station,” explains Rocc’Antonio, a 16-year-old high school student in Ajaccio, Corsica, where sales have doubled. last year.
If companies like Microcar, Aixam, Ligier and other manufacturers target their advertising to young city dwellers, they also target parents tired of offering a taxi service to their offspring.
In Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, Gwenola, the mother of Evan, 16, who is an apprentice baker, said she could no longer bear to drive him to the bakery at dawn.
“I got up at 4:30 am to take her away,” she said. “We wanted to offer him a vehicle so that he could be autonomous.
Evan joked that he preferred to drive alone. “I prefer to be warm, sheltered from the rain and without my mother by my side,” he told France Bleu.