The firm entered the automobile business with the Ligier JS2, a mid-engined sports car for the road initially powered by a Ford V6 and from 1971 by the same Maserati V6 engine as the Citroën SM. The JS2 was considered by many as a well-designed car with a very good power-to-weight ratio. The Ligier motorcars were all designated with the prefix "JS" in honour of Ligier's great friend and cohort Jo Schlesser who was killed in the 1968 French Grand Prix while driving for Honda. The final SMs were also produced in the Ligier factory in Vichy. The 1973 energy crisis caused such a decline in the market for the JS2 that production ceased soon after, and the firm changed its focus to microcars, for example, 1984 moped-powered
One of the world's first experimental prototypes of automatic parallel parking was developed on a Ligier electric car at INRIA in the mid-1990s.
In September 2008, Ligier Automobiles completed its acquisition of Beneteau Group's Microcar division, with financing provided by 21 Investimenti Partners. Phillipe Ligier, son of the company's founder, remains as CEO. The Ligier and Microcar brands are to retain their separate identities and manufacturing facilities. The merger creates Europe's second largest microcar manufacturer (after Daimler's Smart unit, if one considers that a microcar), and largest manufacturer of drivers license-exempt vehicles.