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EXPLAINED: The financial aid available to buy an electric car in France

French president Emmanuel Macron has announced an increase in the financial aid available if you trade in your combustion engine car for an electric one - here's how the grants work.

EXPLAINED: The financial aid available to buy an electric car in France
(Photo by DENIS CHARLET / AFP)

In a partial reversal on previous plans, under which the ecological bonus for motorists who trade in an older car for an electric model was set to fall, Macron said: “Because we want to make the electric car accessible to everyone, we are going to increase the ecological bonus from €6,000 to €7,000 for half of [France’s] households.” 

The Bonus écologique (ecological bonus) applies to the purchase of an electric vehicle costing less than €47,000 – €7,000 being the maximum amount available. The government estimates that around half of households will be eligible for the maximum amount.

According to the Comité des constructeurs français d’automobiles (CCFA) 162,106 electric cars were first registered in France in 2021 – up from 110,916 in 2020, and 42,763 in 2019. The first half of 2022 suggests last year’s figure will be beaten again, with 93,344 electric cars first registered. In 2010, just 180 electric cars were registered in France.

Listen to our discussing on electric cars and the problems of transport in rural France in the latest episiode of the Talking France podcast.

To support the expected increase in electric vehicles on French roads, the number of charging points will also rise – but installations are currently behind schedule. There should have been 100,000 publicly available charging points (known as bornes) across France at the end of 2022. Current expectations are that the actual figure will be about 72,000.

In an additional boost for those considering switching to electric vehicles, the President also announced that prices at charging terminals will be controlled under the government’s energy price shield.

“From January 2023, we will also extend the price shield to electrical terminals, so that prices remain reasonable,” he said

This is how the bonus écologique – and other aid to buy greener vehicles – works.

Bonus écologique

The current cap on grants is €6,000, but that will rise to €7,000 from January 2023.

The financial aid is available towards the purchase or rental of a new electric or rechargeable hybrid vehicle with CO2 emissions of no more than 50g/km.

The amount of aid depends on the cost of the vehicle – up to the €47,000 maximum – and amounts to 27 percent of the total purchase price, up to the cap amount. 

Fully electric vehicles are eligible for higher grants – and, although the aid is not means-tested, the level of grant falls as prices rise to weigh it in favour of lower-income households. So, for an electric vehicle costing about €20,000 a grant of €5,400 would be available, while for one between €45,000 and €60,000 the bonus is limited to about €2,000.

The €47,000 cap means that a Tesla is probably out of bounds, but the electric Renault Zoe sells from €33,000. 

Prime à la conversion (Conversion bonus)

This bonus is available in addition to the bonus écologique for those who scrap their older vehicle when they buy a newer less-polluting one. In order to benefit from this, the scrapped vehicle must have been registered before 2006 for petrol vehicles and before 2011 for diesel ones.

This aid is means-tested. In order to see if you benefit, and how much you may receive, the government has set up an online simulation

The maximum scrapping bonus for those buying an electric or rechargeable hybrid vehicle with an electric range of over 50km is €5,000. For a more modern, less-polluting thermal-engined vehicle or a hybrid with a lower electric range, the cap is set at €3,000.

Like the ecological bonus, you must keep the vehicle for at least six months and drive at least 6,000 kilometres after purchase or lease before you can sell-on the vehicle.

Local subsidies

In addition to government grants, many local grants are also available if you want to buy a less polluting vehicle. All national and local subsidies are listed here by the Ministry of Ecological Transition.

Further information is available from the government website Je Change Ma Voiture

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POLITICS

Rugby tickets, coffee and stickers – French presidential candidates chastised over expenses claims

From coffee runs to rugby tickets and professional photos - France's election financing body has revealed some of the items it has refused to reimburse from the 2022 presidential race.

Rugby tickets, coffee and stickers - French presidential candidates chastised over expenses claims

Spending on the election trail is tightly regulated in France, with maximum campaign spends per candidate as well as a list of acceptable expenses that can be reimbursed.

In France the State pays at least some of the election campaign costs, with the budget calculated according to how many votes the candidate ends up getting. 

READ MORE: 5 things to know about French election campaign financing

On Friday, the government body (la Commission nationale des comptes de campagne et des financements politiques – or CNCCFP) released its findings for the 12 candidates who ran in the April 2022 presidential campaign. 

All of the candidates had their accounts approved, but 11 out of the 12 were refused reimbursement on certain items. Here are some of the items that did not get CNCCFP approval;

Rugby tickets 

Jean Lassalle – the wildcard ‘pro farmer’ candidate who received about three percent of votes cast in the first round of the 2022 election – bought “19 tickets to attend a rugby match” according to the CNCCFP’s findings. The organisation said it would not be reimbursing the tickets and questioned “the electoral nature of the event”. 

The total cost of the tickets was €465 (or €24.50 each).

Too many coffees

Socialist candidate, and current mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo reportedly spent at least €1,600 on coffee for her team during the campaign.

According to the CNCCFP, however, the caffeine needed to keep a presidential campaign running did not qualify under the country’s strict campaign financing rules.

Too many stickers

Hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s was told that the 1.2 million stickers that were bought – to the tune of €28,875 – to advertise the campaign would not be reimbursed. Mélenchon justified the purchasing of the stickers – saying that in the vast majority of cases they were used to build up visibility for campaign events, but CNCCFP ruled that “such a large number” was not justified. 

Mélenchon was not the only one to get in trouble for his signage. Extreme-right candidate Éric Zemmour was accused of having put up over 10,000 posters outside official places reserved for signage. The same went for the far-right’s Marine Le Pen, who decided to appeal the CNCCFP’s decision not to reimburse €300,000 spent on putting posters of her face with the phrase “M la France” on 12 campaign buses.

Poster pictures

Emmanuel Macron – who won re-election in 2022 – will not be reimbursed for the €30,000 spent on a professional photographer Soazig de la Moissonière, who works as his official photographer and took the picture for his campaign poster. 

The CNCCFP said that Macron’s team had “not sufficiently justified” the expenditure.

Expensive Airbnbs

Green party member Yannick Jadot reportedly spent €6,048 on Airbnbs in the city of Paris for some of his campaign employees – an expense that the CNCCFP said that public funds would not cover.

Translating posters

The campaign finance body also refused to reimburse the Mélenchon campaign’s decision to translate its programme into several foreign languages at a cost of €5,398.

The CNCCFP said that they did not consider the translations to be “an expense specifically intended to obtain votes” in a French election.

Best and worst in class

The extreme-right pundit Zemmour had the largest amount of money not reimbursed. Zemmour created a campaign video that used film clips and historic news footage without permission and also appeared on CNews without declaring his candidacy – because of these two offences, CNCCFP has reduced his reimbursement by €200,000. He has been hit with a separate bill of €70,000 after he was found guilty of copyright infringement over the campaign video. 

The star pupil was Nathalie Arthaud, high-school teacher and candidate for the far-left Lutte Ouvriere party, who apparently had “completely clean accounts”. A CNCCFP spokesperson told Le Parisien that if all candidate accounts were like Arthauds’, then “we would be unemployed”.

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