Vintage cars to be allowed in low-emission zones in France

Until now, such cars were rated very poorly with regards to air pollution, but they will now receive a waiver after being hailed as ‘a priceless part of our heritage’

A row of vintage French models of the Citroen 2CV
Vintage cars are a “priceless part of our industrial, technical, economic, social and cultural heritage”, the transport minister said in justifying the cars’ exemption from Crit’Air rules
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Vintage cars will soon be able to use a special sticker to enable them to enter low-emission zones in four major cities in France.

Vintage car group la Fédération française des véhicules d'époque (FFVE) announced the news in a statement, after four years of negotiation with several towns and cities.

The FFVE has successfully argued for vintage cars to receive a special dispensation on the usual Crit’Air emission sticker system in the cities of Paris, Rouen, Reims, and Nice.

Other cities or areas, including Greater Paris, Strasbourg, Toulouse and Lyon, could also introduce the waiver soon.

Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said: “Our vintage vehicles constitute a priceless part of our industrial, technical, economic, social and cultural heritage.”

Mr Djebbari said he had contacted city authorities to “guarantee that vintage vehicles will be allowed in the low-emission zones” (les zones à faibles émissions (ZFE)).

Until now, vintage cars have been banned in ZFEs across France, as they are usually classified on the lower end of the Crit’Air air pollution scale, at 3, 4 or 5 (the same as a diesel car).

Only genuinely vintage, historic cars will be covered by the waiver. This means only cars that have a carte grise classifying them as “collection (collector’s)” vehicles.

These cars will likely now be allowed to use a separate Crit’Air sticker to “make this measure easier to enforce”, said the FFVE.

What is the Crit’Air system?

Crit’Air is a “clean air” system of labelling for cars in France, which classifies them by how polluting they are, with a different colour for each level.

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

The least polluting vehicles benefit from parking and traffic conditions, and the lowest number of restrictions within the low-emission zones. The most polluting are only allowed to enter the area on certain days, or are completely banned between 8:00 and 20:00 seven days a week.

There are six categories of sticker colour, from green for the cleanest, through to dark grey for the most polluting.

  • Green – Crit’Air E (zero emissions – electric and hydrogen vehicles)

  • Purple – Crit’Air 1 (gas and rechargeable hybrid vehicles)

  • Yellow – Crit’Air 2

  • Orange – Crit’Air 3

  • Burgundy – Crit’Air 4

  • Dark Grey – Crit’Air 5

Restrictions in Paris, notably, will be tightened in the decade ahead to achieve the goal of 100% clean vehicles by 2030 in the capital.

According to Santé publique France, air pollution is responsible for 48,000 premature deaths in France every year.

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