Macron could exclude non-European electric cars from EV bonus

French President, Emmanuel Macron, could announce a reform of the government’s EV bonus plan. The suggestion could be based on the vehicle’s carbon footprint, thus excluding cars produced in heavy-polluting countries such as China. However, it’s easier said than done.

For a few months now, France has considered a way to exclude vehicles built far away from Europe, especially from China. According to the government, it’s a way to promote European or French-built cars.

“We finance battery factories and car production in France. We are the continent that has set the most ambitious targets, particularly for the automobile industry, so should we continue to finance cars from other countries that do not respect the same rules?” said the Elysée.

EV bonus based on carbon footprint

Currently, France allocates an EV bonus of up to €5 000 (or €7 000 for the most modest households) for purchasing an electric car costing no more than €47 000 and weighing less than 2,4 tons. As most of the European EVs come from premium brands, this plan benefits those who purchase Chinese cars.

“We must not replicate in the electric car market the mistakes we made in photovoltaics, in which we created a dependence on the Chinese industry and made its manufacturers prosper,” said President Macron on Thursday during an event.

France wants to amend the EV bonus system to push the production and sales of European-built EVs. As of today, according to the Elysée, a system based on the carbon footprint makes sense. Indeed, calculating the energy taken to produce the car and its batteries could benefit cars built in France, where electricity is mostly nuclear and hydraulic.

New rules

It’s all jolly and fun to announce reforms and amendments. However, introducing and calculating the carbon footprint is easier said than done. Politicians seem to think of a car as a whole, but vehicles comprise many parts from around the world. Most of the current French electric cars have batteries built… in China. Moreover, the cheapest French electric car, the Dacia Spring, is built entirely in the Middle Kingdom.

The cheapest EV from a European brand, the Dacia Spring, is built in China /Dacia

To simplify the EV bonus reform, France could potentially base its carbon footprint calculation on battery production alone, as it represents most of the emissions. “The production of a 50 kWh battery takes 3,5 tons of CO2 if it’s done in France with decarbonated energy, but it takes twice that if it’s done in Poland or China,” explains Rémi Bastien, former R&D Director at Renault, reported in La Tribune.

Furthermore, it could make sense when French battery production ramps up as the first of three Gigafactories in northern France has been inaugurated in May.


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