Rochet-Schneider of Lyon was one of the earliest French motorcar makers, its first automobiles appearing in 1894. These rear-engined cars showed influences from Benz and Peugeot, whilst in 1900 front-engined cars of the Panhard-Levassor type were introduced. Rochet-Schneider was among the first French makers to produce cars that followed the Mercédès pattern and these 1903 models were license-built in Switzerland by Martini, by La Locomotrice and FN in Belgium, and in Italy by Florentia.
In Lyon, Rochet-Schneider concentrated on producing high-quality expensive cars for the top end of the market. Initially this brought respectable profits but with the 1907 depression the business went in receivership, although it continued trading. By 1909 profitability had been restored thanks to the manufacture of the Zénith carburettor designed by its general manager François Baverey, plus the introduction of a new range of cars. This included a smaller 12-16 model that remained in production with few changes until 1927. After motorcar manufacture ceased in 1932 commercial vehicles were made until 1951 when the firm was bought by Berliet.