A small car has made a big, and somewhat controversial, impact in France. The diminutive VSP, or voiture sans permis, is a type of car that you can drive without a license. Technically, all you need is insurance and maybe a few hours of driving experience. It appeals to younger drivers, as you only have to be 14 years old to get behind the wheel. The two-seater hatchback is also a popular choice for older drivers, who may no longer be able to pass the driving test, or who have never had a license in the first place. Even more dubiously, it's an option for people who have lost their licenses due to behavior such as driving under the influence. The VSP’s top speed is only 28 mph (45 km/hour), so it’s best suited for folks living in French countryside, although some have complained about slow and erratic VSP drivers. Nevertheless, the VSP is an important link for people in rural areas, where public transportation is often very limited.
For the roads less-traveled:
- The Aixam Scouty/Scouty R is a favorite VSP option in France. The special auto category has strict limits on top speed, curb weight, length, and horsepower.
- The Scouty’s power comes from a 5.4-horsepower 400cc 2-cylinder diesel engine. Because of the lack of "oomph," it’s illegal to drive a VSP on a highway.
- The Scouty R gets well over 60 miles (97 km) per gallon. Even with its tiny 4.2-gallon (15.9-liter) fuel tank, the car has a range of about 250 miles (402 km) before it needs to be refueled.