France is to offer zero-interest loans of up to €30,000 to help drivers who work or live in low-emission zones to buy a hybrid or electric vehicle.
Air pollution in the zones must also be above authorised levels in order for residents or workers to qualify.
The loan will be available from January 1, 2023, and the scheme will be trialled for two years initially, a decree published today confirmed.
It will officially apply to zones that consistently breach authorised thresholds for pollution levels, and those in which a low-emission zone (Zone à faibles émissions (ZFE)) must be put in place from January 1, the Ecology Ministry said.
This includes several larger towns and cities in France, including Paris, Lyon, Grenoble and Aix-Marseille. However, for the moment it will not include all of the towns of more than 150,000 residents that will be required to create a ZFE by December 31, 2024.
The loan will apply to all cars and vans that weigh less than 2.6 tonnes and whose emissions are less or equal to 50 grams per kilometre. This means hybrid and electric vehicles.
It may be granted, subject to conditions, to individuals (and very small businesses) whose residential or working address is found inside a qualifying ZFE, or a bordering zone.
The maximum amount available will be €30,000, which must be paid back over a maximum of seven years.
After two years of trialling the scheme, the Ministry of Transport will evaluate its success and produce a report.
It comes as France is still not achieving the air quality levels required in several zones despite injunctions to that effect from the Conseil d’Etat and reminders from the European Commission.
What other aid is there in France to buy electric vehicles?
Two more types of financial aid to help people in France buy an electric car are set to be available until July 1, 2022.
These are the ‘bonus écologique’ and ‘prime à la conversion’.
The bonus écologique is available for cars with CO2 emission levels below 50g per km and hydrogen-powered vehicles costing more than €60,000. It is not means-tested and will cover 27% (up to a limit of €6,000) of the cost of a vehicle priced at less than €45,000.
For an electric vehicle that costs €45,000-60,000, the bonus is €2,000.
The second aid, prime à la conversion, enables owners of older, more polluting vehicles to buy a more efficient replacement.
This aid is means-tested and the buyer’s taxable income must be less than €13,489 per ‘family quotient part’ in their household to qualify. (You can use the government’s online calculator to determine how many ‘parts’ there are in your household.)
The prime à la conversion can cover up to 80% or €5,000 of the price of an electric or hybrid vehicle which can run for at least 50km on electricity.
However, to be eligible for the maximum grant, your income per part must be less than €6,300, you must travel more than 12,000km per year on your commute to work and your workplace must be more than 30km away from your place of residence.
The funding available for those who do not fulfil all of these criteria is capped at €2,500.