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Will the EU’s new black box rules affect French car prices?

A shortage of materials such as aluminium are adding to fears that the change could push up prices, but manufacturers deny the claim

A shiny red car close up of its headlamp

Brand new cars in France are set to have black boxes installed from July - but will this make them more expensive? Pic: CC7 / Shutterstock

New cars in France are set to have mandatory ‘black boxes’ installed from this July (2022), stoking fears that this could cause vehicle prices to rise – not helped by the already-existing raw material shortages.

The new boxes will identify details of the car’s speed, acceleration, braking, steering angles, airbag deployment and even seat belt use. The information collected only concerns the mechanical aspects of the car’s performance, and does not include audio recordings. 

The data detected is deleted every 40 seconds, but it is hoped that the boxes will be able to provide information on the moments leading up to and, therefore, the reasons behind any road accidents in which the car is involved. 

They are designed to withstand crashes, flooding, and fire.

Read more: Black boxes now in all new cars in France; what data do they collect?

Depending on the car model and make, new cars will either have a new bit of kit added, or have an update to their existing computer systems. 

Laure de Servigny, from the vehicle manufacturers’ association la Plateforme de la Filière Automobile (PFA), told La Dépêche: “Today, cars that come out of the factory are all connected, and some have calculators. For these manufacturers, they will just have to add on a bit of software.”

Renault, for example, will simply have to update some of its software. Other manufacturers, however, will need to spend at least €100-€150 per car to install the boxes. 

Drivers’ association 40 Millions d’automobilistes has said that it fears that the cost of new cars could go up, and also fears that the rule for new cars could soon be applied to existing cars on the roads, too.

Group head Pierre Chasseray said: “Drivers will have to spend several hundred euros to install this box [if the rules are applied to existing cars as is expected in 2024].”

Prices for new vehicles have been rising for the past few years, with demand dropping and production costs increasing due to difficulties in sourcing aluminium, copper and electronic components. 

This will not be helped by the fact that the new black boxes require semi-conductors to work, which have been in notable short supply in recent years, with the issue expected to last until 2023 at least.

But Ms de Servigny disagreed, saying: “There will not be a significant extra cost. When it comes to the price of a new car, this isn’t going to change it considerably.”

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