New cars in France must have these features from July

Obligatory new tools will include automatic braking and lane departure warnings. Car costs are expected to rise by at least €500 per vehicle as a result

The new measures are designed to improve safety but critics say they will increase costs and still do not work properly

New electronic tools designed to reduce road traffic accidents will be mandatory in all new cars in France from July 2024. This is expected to increase costs by at least €500 per vehicle.

The measures come from the European Commission’s new Global Safety Regulation 2 (GSR2) and are aimed at reducing the margin for human error in accidents.

The tools are:

  • Lane departure warning, lane assistance, and correction
  • Automatic braking in the event of an obstacle
  • Drowsiness alert
  • Tyre pressure monitoring system
  • Sudden stop warning
  • Accident data recorder
  • Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA)

The regulation also requires more demanding crash testing on new cars, including the usual head-on collision, but also a crash from behind.

This is likely to lead to further changes on car structure, with extra reinforcements and heavier, stronger vehicles. Heavier vehicles are more likely to protect their passengers.

Read also: All new cars in France will soon ‘beep’ at you if you speed 
Read also: Motorway driving in France: new safety alert for security lanes 

Higher costs

The new changes will very likely mean higher costs per vehicle. The European Association of Automotive Suppliers estimates that the switch to GSR2 will cost between €474-617 per vehicle. 

Already, the entry-level Dacia Sandero has increased by €500 (to €11,990), and the Peugeot 208 Puretech 75 now costs €19,550 (€350 more than a year ago).

The end of the road for some

Some vehicles will not survive the switch to GSR2. This includes the Renault Zoe and Twingo, and the Suzuki Ignis, among many others.

Existing models - if they are to continue being made - will be required to make major changes to comply with the new regulations.

Read also: New rules are killing off older cars unable to adapt in France 
Read also: France’s vehicle safety checks are changing. Here is how 

Criticism, and higher risks?

And while the measures are designed to improve safety, some groups have already pointed out issues.

The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) has criticised the need for greater reinforcements in larger vehicles, saying that heavier cars can cause excessive damage to the lighter vehicle in the event of a collision, which can put the other party at higher risk.

It said that modern SUVs “already have a high level of protection”, and that reinforcing them even more could put smaller city vehicles at greater risk.

The ACEA has also criticised the new ISA system. This ‘speed adaptation’ tool will emit a high-pitched sound as soon as the driver goes over the speed limit, and - when combined with cruise control - will bring the car’s speed down automatically. This is designed to reduce accidents.

Yet, ACEA has said that current ISA systems are less-than-reliable. Early systems have misread road signs or used out-of-date information, meaning that drivers may be wrongly alerted or distracted (rather than protected) by audible warnings.

Some motoring magazines have also suggested that the ISA is not perfect. The German Auto Motor und Sport said that “the ISA failed the tests” it carried out a month ago because it misread speed signs. 

Similarly, Belgian publication Moniteur Automobile said that “the intelligent regulator thought it was a good idea to brake on the motorway because of an imaginary limit seen in a parallel lane”.

The Thatcham Research laboratory in the UK has also said that the ISA can easily make mistakes as a result of unexpected issues such as illegible road signs and roadworks. 

Manufacturers say that all of the new electronic tools can be disconnected by the driver in the event that they do not work properly or are in an error state, and that they reset every time the car is restarted.