If you are considering buying an electric car in France, it may be best to do so in the next few months, before government plans to reduce the financial aid available come into effect.
Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has said that France’s projet de loi de finance 2023 budget still includes help for people buying electric cars costing less than €47,000.
However, this bonus écologique – which currently offers grants worth 27% of the cost of the vehicle, up to €6,000 – is set to be reduced to a maximum of €5,000 in 2023.
The exact date of the change has not yet been confirmed, as the budget has not yet been made law.
In addition, Mr Le Maire did not rule out the introduction of a condition requiring cars eligible for these grants to have been produced on European – or even French – soil.
“Should we reserve the bonus écologique to France or Europe? We need to think about that,” he said when the budget bill was announced on September 26.
This would mean that models such as the electric Toyota Yaris, which is manufactured in Onnaing (Nord), the Opel Mokka-e, which is produced in Poissy (Yvelines) and electric Peugeot cars assembled in Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin) could be prioritised for the grant.
Models such as the Tesla Model Y Propulsion and the Smart #1 – both produced in China – would not be eligible.
Plan for government leasing scheme
In all, the 2023 budget bill includes €1.3billion in funding for encouraging electric car use, including plans for a leasing scheme through which a total of 100,000 vehicles would be made available for long-term hire at a cost of €100 per month.
This initiative will be aimed especially at lower-income households and certain professions, such as nurses.
The scheme is set to include vehicles such as the MD4 Base, which is currently available for €168.23 per month, and the electric Renault Twingo, which is €129 per month at the moment. For those eligible for the lease programme, the difference in cost will be covered by the state.
It is set to launch in 2023, with €30million allocated to introducing 10,000 cars into the market for lease in that year.
More money will then be allocated to the scheme in 2024 and 2025.
Xavier Horent, delegate-general of motoring organisation Mobilians, told Auto Infos: “Not leaving anyone by the wayside of the transport transition is essential if we want to succeed in confronting the environmental challenge which our society collectively faces.
“But it is clear that even today, electric vehicles are not within reach for certain incomes.
“Yes, we must help those among our compatriots who cannot financially afford an electric car because it seems that, in the long-term, our politicians hope that these vehicles will be the only ones allowed access to urban centres.”
The government’s 2023 budget must still be adopted by Parliament before it becomes law.
Prime à la conversion
Although the government plans to reduce the amount of money made available through the bonus écologique scheme, it will maintain its prime à la conversion.
This grant is available for those who are replacing an older, more polluting vehicle with an electric car.
It is means-tested and only applies to petrol vehicles registered before 2006 and diesel vehicles registered before 2011.
Eligible people can receive up to €2,500 when buying an electric car or plug-in hybrid vehicle able to run 50km on electricity.
For other hybrids, and vehicles with a Crit’Air rating of 1 – meaning that they are not very polluting – the maximum amount is €1,500.
These amounts are doubled for people who live more than 30km from their workplace or drive a lot for work, as well as those on the very lowest incomes.
Both the bonus écologique and the prime à la conversion can be deducted from the price you pay if the dealership agrees. Otherwise, you will need to apply online after purchase to claim the money back.
Even if you do miss out on the higher bonus écologique maximum grant, from January 1, 2023 you may be able to benefit from an interest-free government loan to help with the purchase of an electric or hybrid vehicle.
For a car costing up to €45,000 – or €60,000 for a van – this will reach €30,000, to be repaid over seven years.
Loans will only be available for people in areas 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.
Only small businesses with fewer than 10 employees and a turnover of less than €2million, and individuals whose revenu fiscal de référence taxable income is below €14,000 per year, will be eligible.
In the case of car leasing schemes, the maximum loan amount will be reduced to €10,000 and the repayment period will be the same as that of the lease.
The interest-free loan scheme will be trialled for two years.