Posted on April 20, 2022 at 7:27 am
We only see them in front of some high schools: small cars without a license, lined up in the corridors, have replaced the scooters of many young people with their mobility needs.
“It was safety that attracted me. It’s reassuring for my parents to have my car locked up,” Jean-Paul, who fell in love with a Citroën Ami for his 17-year-old daughter, told Automobile Propre , Jade.
I have the impression that all the young people in the private high school near me had a Citroën Ami for Christmas (electric car without a license from the age of 14) pic.twitter.com/a9bzOhspZs
– Adrien Lelievre (@Lelievre_Adrien) January 27, 2022
In recent years, these cars have been a real facelift. Between 2017 and 2021, the European market has almost doubled: its sales have increased from 24,000 to 42,000, of which about half in France (22,700 in 2021). A spectacular progression, even if it is a niche compared to the classic car market.
Safer than mopeds
“Market growth has been driven mainly by unlicensed adolescents and young workers. They have joined the traditional clientele, that of the elderly or disabled, or even those who have lost their card “, explains François Ligier, CEO of Ligier Group, one of the market leaders with its Ligier and Microcar brands .
These cars have been accessible since 2014 for young people over the age of 14 who hold an AM card (which replaced the road safety certificate required to drive mopeds). However, “people no longer want to see their children on mopeds … In addition, cars. without permission it saves them time, avoiding accompaniments ”, adds Philippe Colançon, CEO of Aixam, another traditional leader in the sector. Covid has also paradoxically had a positive effect, leading to a rejection of public transport. “Sales have simply exploded in France,” he adds.
Accelerator effect of the Citroën Ami
It must be said that the “look” of golf carts has also evolved: although their speed is limited to 45 km / h, now they look more like a real car than a “jar of yogurt” as in the past. “They have adopted the codes of the car industry and have‘ disengaged ’,” says Flavien Neuvy, director of the Cetelem observatory.
Finally, the arrival of the Citroën Ami boosted the market. “With his ambitious communication plan, he has certainly been a strong accelerator,” says François Ligier. Despite the 11,000 registrations registered last year, the newcomer did not bring sales to established players, such as Aixam, Ligier or Chatenet.
“On the contrary, it has valued the world of cars without a license, from the simplest to the best equipped …”, breathes Philippe Colançon. Between 2020 and 2021, European sales of Aixam have increased from 12,000 to 16,100 cars. “And we expect 18,500 this year,” continues the manager.
Real potential in the medium term
Similarly, Ligier sold 16,500 cars in Europe last year, 25% more than in 2020 and 15% more than in 2019. The tricolor SME expects a further increase in its turnover this year, 25% up to 220 million euros. “As long as you have the pieces available,” says François Ligier. Although they have less electronics than “real” cars, cars are also starting to be affected by the shortage of chips.
Positioned at prices significantly lower than the market (7,400 euros, compared to 9,000 to 18,000 euros for established players), the Citroën Ami has also converted part of the market to electric. It has been offering battery-powered cars for about ten years, but so far it has only sold about 300 a year. “We should be up to 3,000 this year,” says Philippe Colançon. “And the electric one, without a doubt, will represent 100% of our future …” For its part, Ligier will launch its first model with batteries in early 2023.
The conversion of manufacturers to electricity should support the market in the medium term. Given the current trend in cities, which generalizes limits of 30 km / h and low-emission zones (ZFE), and eliminates parking spaces, there is real potential! points out Flavien Neuvy. Manufacturers will not complain.