France set to lower weight tax threshold for new gas-guzzling vehicles

However, electric cars will be exempt from the charge

Relatively few cars are currently impacted by the tax, but those that are face heavy taxes
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The tax on buying new, heavier cars in France is set to be extended into 2024, but changes will lower the weight threshold of when the duty has to be paid.

Currently, newly purchased petrol and diesel engine vehicles are subject to a tax of €10 per additional kilogram above 1.8 tonnes.

Set to finish at the end of the year, Transport Minister Clément Beaune announced on Sunday (June 25) that the policy would “no doubt” be extended into 2024 and that lighter cars (under 1.8 tonnes) would also be subject to it.

No concrete details over the changes were given by the minister, except that electric vehicles over the threshold would be exempt from the tax for now.

How many cars will be affected?

Until the new thresholds are revealed, it is difficult to estimate how many cars will be affected, but the current ‘heavy vehicle’ limit is quite high at 1.8 tonnes.

The International Transport Forum say the average weight of a car is 1.4 tonnes (up from 1 tonne in 1970), meaning currently the tax only hits a small number of vehicles, such as particularly heavy SUVs.

The current tax - introduced in 2022 - only applies to cars first registered after that date (either in France or abroad).

Heavier cars from before this date are exempt from the tax, which is a one-off payment made when the car is first registered.

Although the €10 per additional kilogram penalty can quickly add up, the maximum amount of ‘ecological tax’ paid on new vehicles (including taxes based on excess CO² production and in some instances vehicle power) cannot exceed €50,000.

‘We have to be consistent’

Although the exact details over changes to the tax are scarce and will likely be unavailable until 2024’s budget, the transport minister was clear the changes would not affect electric vehicles.

“We have to be consistent… we are in a transition phase and we need to develop electric vehicles in France and Europe,” said the minister.

This ‘consistency’ aligns with Macron’s push for electric car maker Tesla to build a megafactory in France.

Although they will initially be exempt from the tax, hefty electric vehicles may eventually be subject to a ‘heavy vehicles’ tax of some kind.

This is because they still emit more CO² compared to smaller electric vehicles due to their size.

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