Boom in sales of unlicensed cars in France due to the “Covid effect”

Sales of new cars without a license have climbed 73% in France this year, breaking all previous records, in a boom that has been partly attributed to the “Covid effect”.

Car sales soared between January and September 2021, reaching a total of 16,044, from 9,626 during the same period in 2019, according to figures from data analysts AAA Data.

The cars have a maximum speed of 45 km / h and can be driven by people aged 14 and over without a full driver’s license.

Marie-Laure Nivot, head of market intelligence at AAA Data, said the boom could largely be attributed to what she called the “Covid effect”.

She told Le Figaro: “We are absolutely witnessing a very, very strong evolution in the mobility market. The health crisis has changed people’s behavior in terms of travel, and has increased the demand for individual vehicles.

As people seek to avoid public transportation, demand has increased for small cars, motorcycles, scooters, and used cars.

Ms Nivot explained: “We have broken all records when it comes to these small cars. Look, for example, at the arrival of the Citroën Ami electric model, very popular with young people and which is very successful in Paris.

Young drivers of change

The boom in sales seems to mark a change in the types of people using these vehicles, young people are particularly interested in them.

Small electric cars were once associated with the elderly or those whose licenses had been suspended.

“Fifteen years ago, it was seen more as a vehicle for the elderly in rural and remote areas,” said Alison Whitaker, marketing and communications manager at European license-free car leader Aixam.

“But that is changing. The need for autonomy and the lack of travel options for those who live in underserved areas are also factors that explain the success of the unlicensed car.

AAA data shows that cars – known as carts, car without a license (VSP) or even “yogurt pot” cars in French – are most successful in the departments of the North, followed by Paris, Bouches-du-Rhône and Var. .

Cars start at € 8,990 and cost an average of € 12,500.

As a result, it would appear that in many cases parents help their young adult children to purchase these vehicles, which are considered more “accessible”.

These vehicles only require an AM license (AM license), which can be obtained from a local driving school in just eight hours.

Additionally, cars are often considered safer for young people than other forms of electric transportation.

Mr Whittaker said: “For obvious reasons of safety and comfort, parents prefer to see their children in an unlicensed car than on a scooter.”

What are the rules for these unlicensed cars?

  • Anyone born before 1988 can drive one without a license or training.
  • If you were born in 1988 or later, you must pass the road safety certificate (BSR). The course consists of a theory test and eight hours of driving, including one hour on instructional tracks, at least three hours in traffic with an instructor and one hour of teaching risk theory.
  • Course prices are not fixed, but the The government site service-public.fr indicates that they can cost up to € 400.
  • Driving schools and local associations, often those which manage youth clubs, offer BSR training, allowing students from the age of 14 to drive these vehicles.
  • To be considered a license-free car, the vehicle must have an unladen weight of 425 kg, be a maximum of three meters long, have only two seats, an engine limited to 6 kW (8 HP) and a top speed. of 45 km / h.
  • Cannot be driven on freeways, expressways or expressways where the speed limit is typically 110 km / h or more.

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