It might only be separated by a thin ribbon of water, but there are plenty of French cars we rarely see in the UK. Electric vehicles, in particular, enjoy a huge following thanks to an abundance of cheap, clean electricity.
The Paris motor show isn't just playing host to some oddball domestically-built cars. JLR is making much of its involvement with the James Bond franchise, while Tunisia's only car maker made the journey to the Paris Expo to show its Mini Moke-like Izis.
Click the image above to see the weird and the wonderful from Paris.
Aixam and Ligier
French 'light quadricycle' provisions mean no driving licence is required for two-seat vehicles up to 4kW (5.4bhp) that weigh less than 350kg and travel below 45kph (30mph). Aixam has recently added EVs to its existing range of two-cylinder, 400cc diesels (the engines are supplied by Kubota), and added a Coupé body style. They’re the only quadricycles to offer ABS. Competitor Ligier counters with the petrol-powered, €12,790 (£10,200) JS50 RC, named for 1960s F1 racer Jo Schlesser, a friend of Guy Ligier.
A battle-scarred double-cab Defender pick-up featured on Land Rover’s stand to mark JLR’s involvement in the 23rd James Bond film, Skyfall, to be released late next month. The Defender stars in the film’s opening sequence, driven by Naomie Harris in her role as a field agent called ‘Eve’. JLR supplied 77 vehicles for the production at Pinewood Studios, also including Range Rovers and Jaguar XJs for use on-screen and off. The previous Bond film also featured a Range Rover Sport.
Electric car buyers in France benefit from a €7000 (£5,580) grant towards the purchase price, and national and local innovation incentives encourage smaller companies like Lumeneo to follow in the footsteps of Renault with its aggressive zero-emissions model plans. The 46bhp, four-seat Neoma city car will be ready to buy this November at €25,000 euros (£20,000), after grant deduction, offering a 87 mile mixed-cycle range. The Neoma Roadster concept is in line for production, too, as is the 1+1 Smera, at around the same price.
French manufacturer PGO builds three two-seat, mid-engined, rear-drive models – the Porsche 356-aping Speedster II and more modern-looking Cevennes roadsters and the Hemera shooting brake. Now packing turbocharged, 181bhp, 1.6-litre engines from BMW, in place of the old PSA 2.0-litre units, and a six-speed manual ’box, the PGOs top out at 140mph and offer 10sec of overboost to yield 192lb ft. Prices start around £33,000 for the Hemera and £35,000 for the drop-tops, and there are four English distributors.
Venturi pitches its America electric two-seat roadster as a “high voltage buggy”. Building on the lower-riding Fétish production car (first seen in concept form a decade ago), the 1425kg America sends 296bhp to its rear wheels from a home-brew electric motor, reaching 60mph in “four to five seconds”. In fact, the batteries are the only major parts not made by Venturi itself. Sales opened at the Paris show, with prices starting at €300,000 (around £239,000) for delivery late in 2013.
Tunisia’s only carmaker holds French homologation for its Mini Moke-inspired Izis under two-seat ‘utility vehicle’ regulations. Powered by a 1.4-litre, 74bhp Peugeot petrol engine, the fibreglass-bodied Izis weighs just 930kg and tops out at 87mph. Prices start at €12,000 (£9,500), but luxuries like leather trim, 15in alloys, air-conditioning and a fabric roof are available, and are retro-priced to the date of purchase if you choose to buy them later. Production capacity is 600 units per year, and four-seat versions are available outside Europe.