Budget for social leasing in France already exhausted

In France, the social leasing plan, a state measure to give less fortunate people access to an EV for 100 euros a month, has already run out of budget. The scheme is discontinued after more than 50,000 validated orders in six weeks, or almost double what was initially planned.

The Elysée Palace announced that the measure had “exceeded” its original targets for this year. Still, President Emmanuel Macron’s headquarters underlined that the operation will be restarted by the end of 2024 for 2025.

‘Success story’

“Of the 100,000 vehicles normally purchased each year by French people eligible for leasing, 50,000 will be electric this year,” said an adviser of the Head of State. “It’s a real success story, emblematic of French-style ecology, good for the wallet and the planet.”

The social leasing scheme, launched in December, offered a lease with a purchase option at less than 100 euros per month for electric city cars and 150 euros for family cars (excluding insurance and maintenance), with no initial deposit, and for three years renewable once.

The scheme is reserved for French people with a reference tax income of less than 15,400 euros who drive more than 8,000 km a year or live more than 15 km from their place of work.

€300 million budget

The French government will finance each lease up to a maximum of 13,000 euros, and manufacturers will also try to reduce the monthly payments. Only vehicles manufactured in France or Europe will be eligible for this bonus.

The government, which had foreseen a subsidy envelope for this year for this leasing estimated at around 300 million euros, had initially suggested a quota of 20,000 to 25,000 cars for 2024, depending on the availability of vehicles, promising to increase the number in subsequent years. But the offer immediately fell victim to its success.

Stellantis does good business

Especially the Stellantis group took advantage of this offer, offering its Peugeot 208 and Fiat 500 EVs from mid-December, as well as larger models, such as the Jeep Avenger, for a total of 30,000 cars at the beginning of February, the group said.

Renault has offered its Twingo and Zoé end-of-life cars and Kangoo electric family vehicles at knockdown prices. According to Fabrice Cambolive, the brand’s director, Renault believes it has “increased its market share” thanks to social leasing.

Lormauto’s adapted Twingo

More cars made in France

According to Roland Lescure, the French Minister for Industry and Energy, there is currently “a huge demand, and we still don’t have enough products made in France”. “This means that French manufacturers need to step up the pace or commit to do so,” said the Minister in France 3.

Stellantis insists that building an entry-level car in France is impossible and has just opened sales of its small electric Citroën C3, produced in Slovenia and priced at 20,000 euros. Renault will, in turn, launch its electric Renault 5, manufactured in northern France, in spring 2024 but at higher prices, starting from 25,000 euros.

Manufacturers such as Volkswagen, Skoda, Nissan, and Hyundai had also launched offers under the social leasing scheme, but only in January. Some also said the French state had deliberately played it chauvinist.

The system is also open to used vehicles less than three and a half years old and to retrofit, which consists of electrifying thermal cars. So, the start-up Lormauto must deliver old Twingos in the spring of 2024.

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