Why license-free cars are all the rage

Dual exhausts, alloy wheels, roof spoiler… in its “Sport Ultimate” version, the Ligier JS50 looks like a small GTI. With the difference that it cannot exceed 45 km/h, the maximum speed imposed to enter the category of light motor quadricycles is the famous unlicensed cars. Previously hailed by motorists who have lost their precious sesame, the carriages are now experiencing their hour of glory.

“There has been a real interest in unlicensed cars for some time,” notes Marine Falcinelli, manager of a Ligier concession, one of the biggest manufacturers on the market with Aixam and Citroën. “We lost the cheesy side of the wagon. Now it’s cars that people like,” she explains. The sales figures prove him right. According to AAA Data, registrations in France have increased by more than 70% over the past four years, from 13,232 units in 2017 to almost 23,000 last year.

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If the car without a driving license seduces today, it is because it is part of the trend of the time. “Cars without a driving license are in line with the times. They are easier to drive and park in the city than normal cars, and they are cheaper to use”, analyzes Flavien Neuvy, economist and director of the Cetelem Observatory. It is also because the manufacturers have understood the importance of making their models attractive to the public.

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For its latest JS60 model, for example, Ligier was inspired by the world of SUVs by increasing the ride height and integrating plastic protection around the fenders. “It doesn’t look like a car without a license”, says Alain, happy owner of this model for a few weeks. “At least it catches the eye, much more than my old brand new C4 Coupé”.

New trend among young people

The license-free car is also very popular among young people. “Young people get their driving license later and later, so it’s an interesting alternative if they want to move around,” explains Flavien Neuvy. If the clientele has become younger, it is also because the legislation has developed in recent years. “You can now drive a car without a license from the age of 14 after compulsory training at a driving school”, notes Marine Falcinelli.

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“I use my car to go to school, to go for walks with my friends. I don’t need my parents to get me around anymore, and that’s honestly the best!” says this young 17-year-old teenager at the wheel of his “without P”. To give him this gift, his mother paid 8,000 euros for a used model in good condition. Much more than if she had chosen a scooter. “Parents increasingly choose the car without a driving license because it is safer than two-wheeled cars and more comfortable, especially in rainy weather,” explains Marine Falcinelli.

In nine, the prices fly away. Count around 12,000 euros for a base model, but the bill can quickly exceed 18,000 euros for a fully equipped high-end version. That’s the price of a Renault Clio… with permission. “It requires a significant initial investment, Marine Falcinelli admits. But the customers are there because cars without a driving license have a low discount, which is an advantage for resale”.

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If they are so expensive, it is also because cars without a driving license have become very well-equipped models. Air conditioning, heated seats, power steering, remote locking … so many features that bring them a little closer to a normal car. Some options even seem to be designed to appeal to young people: touchscreen with smartphone connection, stereo, stitched leather upholstery… Not to mention the famous sports kit to show off in front of friends.

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