The révolution is on: France has record year in EV sales

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It was a very good year in France for electric cars, for all kinds of reasons – among them, new cheaper cars entering the market supported by generous government subsidies. In 2023, 26% of new cars sold in France were battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, a huge 47% jump from 2022. 

According to French auto industry group Plateforme automobile and reported by RFI, 26% of new cars sold in France were battery electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles, amounting to 1,774,729 new cars. That’s compared to 2022 when only 17% of new cars sold were EVs. Plug-in hybrids present 9% of the sales, according to the report.

Gas guzzlers still account for more than a third of the market. But good news, diesel sales are rapidly declining, with only one in 10 new cars sold in 2023 running on diesel.

It’s no surprise either that Tesla is still the undisputed leader of the electric vehicle market in France and Europe, dominating sales with the Model 3 and Model Y SUV. However, things could change for Tesla as new stricter incentives, excluding Chinese-made models and Tesla’s Model 3, are now put in place. 

France’s green bonus, originally a €5,000-flat cash incentive applicable (€7,000 for lower-income families) to all EVs, has tightened its rules this year. For one, a third of those incentives were going to Chinese-made EVs, so the incentives now take into account the car’s production and life cycle, freezing out Chinese and foreign-made cars with heavy CO2 emissions in their manufacturing process. Popular models banished from the list of eligible cars include the Chinese-made Dacia Spring, which accounts for 1 in 10 electric cars sold in France. Also knocked off is Tesla’s Model 3, which for Europe are exported from Tesla’s Shanghai factory. However, the Model Y, the most popular EV in the world, made the list since its assembly takes place in Germany. 

In 2024, the government aims to spend  €200 million less than in 2023 to support EV adoption, and that should heavily impact the market this year.

Still, France has also introduced a new social leasing program, which allows lower-income drivers to lease electric cars for as low as €100 ($109) per month. That includes no down payment and free charging, in some cases, for six months. For now, the program is limited to only only 20,000 to 25,000 applications, with plans to expand the program.

France has committed to producing over 1 million EVs by the end of 2027.  

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