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More funds for green prime after cash ran out

The government has increased the budget allocated to a state bonus scheme for scrapping a polluting car to buy a cleaner car by 47% for next year, after the agency paying it ‘ran out of money’ this year.

Some €570million is allocated for paying the prime à la conversion in 2019, up from 2018’s €388million. However those hoping to benefit may wish to make their purchases this year so as to benefit from current rules as it is expected that the government will toughen the criteria meaning certain models that are eligible this year may cease to be. The amount of the bonuses should stay the same.

Thousands of drivers, many from low-income households, were left waiting for months this year after payments reportedly ground to a halt in May after far more people than predicted applied for the bonus, which had been revamped to be available to more people than the former prime à la casse.

The previous version was only for scrapping a diesel car and only for purchase of new cars, whereas the new one is for scrapping either diesel or petrol cars and it includes purchase of second-hand cars (as well as electric scooters and motorbikes).

Also whereas the former bonus was subject to means-testing the new one is available to all, though at different levels depending on whether your household is eligible to pay tax or not.

The agency charged with paying it reportedly ran out of money due to demand: 170,000 had applied by mid-September, far above the target of 100,000 in 2018. In some cases it was garages, which can advance the money as a deduction from the price, who were left waiting –  in other cases it was individuals who had applied for the cash.

Ministry figures showed 70% of those applying would have been eligible for a €2,000 bonus for those with no taxable income and would have made up the bulk of the people waiting. Reports said some had taken loans to make up shortfalls. Two-thirds of applicants were buying a second-hand car.

The government insisted everyone with a valid dossier would be paid and on writing €86million had been released with promises to pay outstanding bonuses as soon as possible.

To benefit people can either scrap a petrol car dating from before 1997 or a diesel car dating from (for non taxpayers) before 2006 of (for taxpayers) from before 2001.

They must buy a car (or two or three-wheeler or quad bike) that has low emissions, either electric or if not electric then with emissions of (in 2018) less than 130gCO2/km and with a Crit’Air label of 1 or 2.

As for the bonus (which cannot be more than the vehicle is worth) for a car or van it is up to €1,000 for taxpayers or €2,000 for non taxpayers, or in both cases €2,500 for an electric vehicle. For bikes the amounts are respectively €100 or €1,100 depending on tax status.

Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne said drivers would make an immediate saving as new cars used up to a third less fuel than a 20-year-old one.

Money-saver: Go online for tyre deals

New tyres are pricey so it is good to find a way to cut costs, especially for drivers in mountain areas who may need to buy winter tyres.

Several websites have a wide range for all budgets and vehicles and many have partner garages to fit purchases. is one of the biggest and it says the garages get the advantage of a possible new client, even if the money made from tyre fitting is low.

It and others also offer a home service in some areas where a van will come to you to change your tyres. Allo­pneus say this costs ‘from €14.90’ per tyre.

One reader said: “I recently changed my Mini’s tyres at the Feu Vert chain. At €61.90 each, with €15.90 fitting each, it was €330.80 including the insurance I foolishly took.

“There was no saving to be made by buying them online on Feu Vert’s site.

“Online, with free delivery, they were €59.80 on Allo­pneus and €56.88 at Pneus Online while had the same tyres for €57.10.”

The cost of fitting of the tyres at partner garages varies from around €12 to €30 per tyre.

The reader added that overall there are savings to be made if you shop around, and you also get the chance to take your time to choose the ideal tyres.

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