SALES of diesel cars in France are starting to fall for the first time in 15 years, as drivers prepare for anti-diesel measures being introduced by the government and some cities.
Diesel accounted for less than 60% of new cars sold in France in March, down from a 67% market share in the same month last year.
Foreign car manufacturers are moving away from diesel faster. French brands such as PSA Peugeot-Citroën are still selling 69.1% of their vehicles with diesel engines.
The government has promised to lead by example and adopt greener energies – at the moment, 84% of official vehicles run on diesel and this should fall below 50% next year.
Late last year, prime minister Manuel Valls described France’s preferential treatment of diesel over the years as “an error” that needs fixing “with intelligence and pragmatism”.
The government wants the price of diesel to gradually rise until it is the same as petrol – and some cities have taken the lead to discourage diesel cars, including Paris which wants an ban by 2020, and about 50 towns in the Alpes-Maritimes around Nice which will ban the oldest diesel cars during polluting peaks.
Bonuses of up to €10,000 are available for the purchase of new electric cars. Hybrid cars can attract up to €6,500 in bonuses.
Low-income households can also benefit from a €500 bonus if they trade their old diesel car for a new or second-hand vehicle emitting less than 100g/km of CO².