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Six changes for drivers in France in 2023

The coming year will see new incentives for car sharing and some enhanced grants for buying an electric car but also more low emission zones and a fuel price change

We look at the changes that will affect drivers in France in 2023 Pic: Grisha Bruev / Shutterstock

Continued financial support for people buying electric cars 

People in France who wish to buy an electric car will continue to benefit from government grants in 2023. 

President Emmanuel Macron has announced that the current €6,000 grant will be increased to €7,000 for the half of French households on the lowest incomes. 

For the other half of French households, it will be reduced to €5,000. 

This grant is only available for purchases totalling up to €47,000. Cars costing €47,000-€60,000 will benefit from a €1,000 grant. 

Read more: Increased aid announced for electric car purchases in France

Read also: EU’s electric car deal could ‘wipe out’ European automobile industry

Electric vehicle conversions will also be eligible for zero-interest loans from 2023 in a scheme that is to be trialled over the next two years. 

The zero-interest loan (prêt à taux zéro - PTZ) will be available to residents who: 

  • Live or work in an inter-municipal area where part of the area is located in a ZFE, where air quality standards are regularly exceeded, or in an area bordering the ZFE.

  • Has a taxable income per part (person unit in your household) of less than or equal to €14,000 (according to your most recent tax return)

Retrofitting a vehicle is estimated to cost around €14,000 and it has been reported that the loan could reach €8,000. 

Read also: France to trial zero-interest loans for electric vehicle conversions

More low emissions zones created 

Between 2023 and 2025, 43 French cities with more than more than 150,000 residents will introduce zones à faibles émissions (low emission zone or ZFE). 

Drivers in ZFEs must have a Crit’Air sticker fixed to their vehicle reflecting its emissions status. 

Read also: Crit’Air sticker scams continue in France, online and via SMS

Read also: France to automate low-emission zone checks and fines by 2024 

There are already ZFEs in 11 urban areas in France. 

Local authorities have the right to decide the perimeter of each such zone but must stick to the gradual calendar that dictates how quickly vehicles can be banned from the area, according to European air quality norms.

This will include: 

  • From January 1, 2023, vehicles with Crit'Air 5 (diesel vehicles made before 2001)

  • January 1, 2024, vehicles with Crit'Air 4 (diesel before 2006)

  • January 1, 2025, vehicles with Crit'Air 3 (diesel before 2011 and petrol before 2006)

Read more: A guide to Crit’Air stickers in France

End of government fuel discounts 

On January 1, the 10-cent-per-litre fuel discount being applied by the government to all road fuel purchases at French petrol stations will come to an end. 

This date is also due to mark the end of the additional 10-cent-per-litre fuel discount being offered at TotalEnergies petrol stations. 

This comes as fuel prices have declined slightly across the country over the past month, with the cost of diesel having dropped 16.6 cents, SP95 by around 15.5 and SP98 by 16.1, according to tracking site Carbu.com

This is because the cost of a barrel of Brent crude oil is currently about $80, compared to nearly $120 when petrol prices reached their peak earlier this year. However, it is not certain that this fall in prices will continue. 

France’s nationwide fuel discount will be replaced in January by a more targeted aid for people on lower incomes who depend on their vehicles for work. 

Around 10 million workers will receive a one-off cheque for €100. 

To register your need for the cheque, you must log in to the usual government income tax website and follow the instructions to sign up. 

You will need:

  • Your tax number

  • Your car licence plate number

  • To declare ‘on your honour’ that you need your vehicle for work or to commute

The aid will be available to those who fall within the first five tax bands in France so the bottom half of households by income.

Read more: Fuel aid France: Around 10 million workers to get extra €100

Motorway toll rates increase 

The cost of French motorway tolls is set to rise by 4.75% on average in February.  

Toll rates are recalculated every year based on a formula taking inflation and the potential need for work on the road into account. They increased by 2% in 2022.

The transport ministry stated that the 4.75% figure is “markedly lower” than France’s October inflation rate of 6.33% over a year, which was calculated by national statistics institute Insee. 

Several motorway companies have taken steps to assist drivers with the rising cost. For example, the discount applied to vehicles making at least 10 return journeys in a month on the same route will increase from 30% to 40%.

Electric vehicles driving on the Sanef/SAPN and APRR/AREA networks will also benefit from a 5% discount.

Read also: Motorways tolls in France set to rise: what can drivers expect in 2023

Incentives for car sharing 

New car sharers in France are to receive up to €100 each in 2023 as part of government plans to reach three million journeys per day, up from the current 900,000.

Read more: Drivers to be given up to €100 to start car sharing in France

Read also: Drivers to get cash bonus to carshare on motorways around Lille

The government today announced that the payments would be given to all drivers who sign up to a car-sharing app and use the service for the first time in 2023. 

Drivers will receive “at least” €25 on sign-up and the rest after they complete 10 journeys in the three months after their first journey. 

The money will be paid by the car-sharing platforms themselves, with the funds coming from the state. The payment is intended to help “accelerate the practice”, the government said (pun intended).

The measure is part of several to be announced as part of the government’s new multimillion national ‘covoiturage du quotidien (2023-2027)’ (daily car sharing) plan. Car sharing is ‘covoiturage’ in French, and it sometimes appears on signs denoting special lanes or areas for these vehicles.

The government’s new plan is also set to offer funds to local authorities and companies that help make car sharing easier. For each euro spent, the government will match it. 

New service stations dedicated to car sharers could be built, or special lanes could be opened for car-sharing vehicles.

Car insurance group buy offer 

A French consumer association has partnered with a car and motorbike insurance comparison platform to launch the country’s first group buy offer. 

Vehicle insurance premium prices have increased by 3% this year, so “this operation aims to negotiate discounts for participants – either free months or percentage reductions – while guaranteeing the best cover depending on their profile,” Familles de France and Selectra said in a statement.

People wishing to take part in the group buy can register their interest for free on this website by entering their contact details, profession and age. They will then be asked whether they need car or motorbike insurance as well as basic questions on their vehicle and what they use it for.

Selectra will make a call for offers from French insurers in January but the pre-registration window will remain open “during the negotiation period”.

The best deal proposed to Selectra will then be sent to those who have entered their details between March and April, including information on the tariff and the extent of the cover. These potential customers will then have the opportunity to accept or decline the offer.

Last year, Selectra launched a group buy home insurance offer, which saved 15,000 people 25% or up to €350 on their annual premium.

Read more: French consumer bodies launch cheaper car insurance group buy offer

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