French authorities say more than 1,000 vehicles were torched nationwide on New Year's Eve, an increase of about 30 percent over last year.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for strong measures against those responsible. He suggested suspending the driver's licenses of the guilty until they have compensated the owners of the destroyed vehicles.
Car burnings have become regular events in France since 2005 when violence shook the suburbs of Paris inhabited largely by people of Muslim and North African origin.
French authorities put the exact number of vehicles destroyed at 1,047, up from 878 last year. Earlier reports had said 445 cars were burned.
Officials also reported 288 arrests overnight, an increase of about 10 percent over a year ago.
Security has been tightened in Paris since the discovery of five sticks of dynamite in an upscale Paris department store last month. A previously unknown group demanding the withdrawal of French troops from Afghanistan claimed to have placed the dynamite in the Printemps store.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.