Volkswagen steps into Macron’s ‘social leasing’ for EVs

After the Stellantis Group, Renault, and Hyundai, Volkswagen will also offer cars in the French ‘social leasing’ project, President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to provide electric vehicles for less than 150 euros a month through a lease with purchase option.

Four models will be offered by the end of January, from the small Volkswagen E-UP (€89/month) and the Skoda Enyaq SUV (€149/month) to the Volkswagen ID.3 and Cupra Born (€109/month).

The French government had forecasted an initial volume of 25 000 rentals. But the formula caught on: meanwhile, almost 35 000 customers have already come forward to take advantage of these sharp low-cost offers.

Push for lower-income earners

The ‘social leasing’ scheme, launched in December last year, is a lease with purchase scheme costing less than 100 euros a month for city cars and 150 euros for station wagons (excluding insurance and maintenance).

It is reserved for people with a reference tax income of less than 15 400 euros, who drive more than 8 000 km a year, or who live more than 15 km from their place of work. Only new or used vehicles built in France or Europe and less than three years old are eligible for this bonus.

President of the Volkswagen Group France Xavier Chardon

‘We also have a role to play’

The Stellantis Group, with brands such as Peugeot, Citroën, Fiat, and Opel, has indicated that it has planned 20 000 cars and could go ‘at least double’. Renault offers four models, including the Twingo E-Tech at a floor price of 40 euros per month, the ZOE E-Tech (€100/month), and the Mégane E-Tech and Kangoo E-Tech at €150/month. Hyundai also recorded 500 rentals of its Kona electric SUB in a few days for €90/month.

The Volkswagen Group, on the other hand, suspects that it was not consulted as early as the French manufacturers but says it is confident with its four offers. “The 25 000 files were calculated based on feedback from other manufacturers; we were not consulted at the time,” says Volkswagen Group France CEO Xavier Chardon. “But we also have a role to play, and we hope the State will expand the bonus.” “Perhaps people who have placed orders will change their minds,” he adds.

However, the French government says that it has not favored French manufacturers and that discussions have been held with all manufacturers whose cars could be included in the social leasing scheme without going into details. The difference in timing may impact access to the file, as the first to arrive is the first to be served.

VW’s ‘hyper offensive’ plan

According to French press agency AFP, the German group sold 245 000 cars in France last year, or a 13,8% market share, behind Stellantis and Renault. The new director of the Volkswagen brand, Dorothée Bonassies, has presented a ‘hyper offensive’ plan to reach 130 000 orders this year, or +30% over one year.

The brand intends to offer a well-equipped series at attractive long-term rental rates and refreshes of its star models, from the Polo to the Tiguan SUV, including the Golf.

Limited budgetary envelope

But the point is that nobody knows precisely how many beneficiaries will be able to benefit from this support from the French state. When the measure was launched in December, there was talk of funding 20 000 to 25 000 social leasing cases in 2024, but that number has already been exceeded with over 90 000 requests on the government’s platform.

Christophe Béchu, France’s minister of Ecological Transition, has already signaled early this week that he is calling for 35 000 cars to satisfy customers’ and manufacturers’ appetites. However, the budget for social leasing is limited to 1,5 billion euros for 2024. In other words, some will remain dissatisfied.

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