- The badges of the 3 French companies (credit: dezeroacem.com.br)

Renault, Peugeot and Citroen, where do the three stand in the automotive market?

As an American, I was intrigued when I learned about French cars a few years back

5w ago

As an American, I can safely say that most of my fellow Americans have never heard of the three famous French car companies. And I will admit, it was only a few years back that I heard about these three companies that I had never seen on the roads before. After learning about them initially, I became curious about the companies.


Renault started as a company in 1898 by the three Renault brothers, Louis, Marcel, and Ferdinand. The first car produced by Renault in 1898 was the Voiturette. And in 1903, Renault began developing its own engines, and a few years later Renault would be making its first major order. The major order was a large group of Renault AG1's which would be converted into taxis.

Renault also became involved in racing from its early days, with the three brothers racing their own cars in the first city to city race in Switzerland. This tradition has continued up until the modern day with Renault still participating in Formula One. So needless to say Renault has a long and illustrious history, even from its beginnings. But how are they doing in today's market?

A Renault F1 car (credit: Formula 1)

A Renault F1 car (credit: Formula 1)

According to an article from OSV, Renaults are generally reliable cars. But they placed 14th out of 20, in a Telegraph survey, referenced in the article. Renaults are also cheap to repair, with parts being easily available in the countries they are sold. Renault also are affordable cars, and simple cars, adding to the reasons why people buy them.

In 2019, Renault was number 16 in car sales in the U.K. This shows that Renault is ahead of Citroen, which is in 18th place on the list. And it shows that Renault seems to be fairly popular in the U.K. And in France, Renault sold 314,630 cars. Renault seems to be fairly well off in its two primary markets, and is actually fairly popular from what I can gather. Ultimately, an interesting, good company with an impressive history.


Now, Peugeot is interesting to me. Not in the ways that interest me about Renault and other companies, but in the way that the data I found on it seems to contradict what my Irish friend told me. A good Irish friend of mine on Discord, told me that Peugeots were very bad cars, unreliable, and the worst cars on the road. He is partially correct from what I can gather though.

Peugeot started out in 1810, as a steel company, but eventually switched into cars at the turn of the century. And in 1929, Peugeot began mass car production with the 201. After becoming a successfully independent company, in 1977 Peugeot merged with other French car company Citroen.

Now though, Peugeot seems to have done decently well for itself. Speaking in terms of reliability, Peugeots are not well known for being the most reliable cars on the road. And are not the highest rated cars under reliability. But regardless are the 11th highest selling car company in the U.K. Selling 301,935 units in 2020, Peugeot seems to be doing fairly well in the U.K. and French market. Contrary to what my friend on Discord told me.

A 1991 Peugeot 205 GTI (credit: classiccarauctions.co.uk)

A 1991 Peugeot 205 GTI (credit: classiccarauctions.co.uk)

Overall, Peugeots may not be the best cars, but are interesting nonetheless. With an intriguing history, and nice looking cars.


The last, but definitely not least of the three major French car companies, Citroen. Citroen was the last made of the three. Being founded in 1919, Citroen created their first car, the Type A. Later Citroen became an innovator with the Type 7, making the first front wheel drive car. Citroen, was later bought out by its tire supplier Michelin. And in 1977 Citroen merged with Peugeot to make the company we know today.

Today, Citroens are quite reliable cars, especially when compared to other manufacturers. They are also cheap to repair adding to the reliability of Citroen. Citroens are also the 18th highest selling car in the U.K. And have sold 162,688 cars in 2020, underselling both Peugeot and Renault. This shows that consumers generally like Peugeots and Renaults over the cars made by Citroen.

A Citroen dubbed "the best hot hatch in the world" by Autocar (credit: Autocar)

A Citroen dubbed "the best hot hatch in the world" by Autocar (credit: Autocar)

Citroens seem to be very well built, and interesting cars. I especially admire the hot hatchbacks made by all three manufactures, and I wish that we had these cars in the U.S. Although I understand why European cars from these companies are not sold in the U.S. As referenced by my article on European cars in the U.S.


I love these car companies, especially the Peugeot 205 GTI from the 90s, as well as the badge for Peugeot, which I find original compared to other car companies. I thoroughly enjoy learning about the car market, especially foreign markets. Although I am not a market expert. Please let me know if I got anything wrong in the comments, as I am curious to learn more about the topic.

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Comments (9)

  • In regards to Citroen , you skipped a bit between 1917 and 1977.

      29 days ago
  • I have nothing but admiration for the beauty and styling of the above manufacturers. Especially with their current models.

    Used to have a three door 106 after which I had a slightly newer five door Saxo when I was youngster. They were like toy cars but got the job done and despite both of them being old I don't remember having reliability issues.

    In Northern Europe it's common to hear crap about the reliability of French cars. A lot of the time this nonsense comes from the mouth of the owner of a German or Swedish car who is near being bankrupt due to the maintenance cost of his 'reliable' car.

      29 days ago
    • Love your comment! In fact we use to say about French cars: don't buy the one built on Monday or on Friday. Otherwise they are good. More seriously we can see an increase in the french car reliability while we see a decrease in both German and...

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        29 days ago
  • Ford was the world's best all round car maker, it incorporated everything you could want!

    Cheap to run cheap to repair good value to buy always decent to drive always decently comfortable (even old one's) and pretty well screwed together.

    There are other manufacturers that do some of those things better but not a single one that can achieve all of the above to a decent standard 😎

    Ford is king 👍👍

    (All 'new' cars are as rubbish as the next, when I say new I mean post '11)

      29 days ago
  • It would be interesting to have a Citroen rebadged as a Chrysler. I'd take one for a test drive. I would also suggest toddlin’ over to your local Stellantis dealer and request a complete model-range brochure. Should run less than 200 pages.

      29 days ago
  • I think French car companies invented front fender flag holders that only fit white flags

      29 days ago