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How France's €100-per-month electric car lease scheme works

The Local France
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How France's €100-per-month electric car lease scheme works
A plugged electric vehicle. Some German subsidies for the vehicles are ending. (Photo by PHILIPPE HUGUEN / AFP)

Motorists in France can now take advantage of a new deal for leasing electric vehicles, aimed at boosting take-up by helping lower-income households with the costs - here's how it works and who is eligible.

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The cost of running an electric car is considerably lower than running a petrol or diesel car, but they are more expensive to buy - meaning that for many lower income households, switching is not a possibility.

This is why the government is running the leasing scheme, which was announced by president Emmanuel Macron in December, and which handed over the keys to the first car in January.

For example, the Renault Megane E-Tech (an electric vehicle, available via the leasing scheme) cost about €34,104 online, while the petrol model was €31,300. 

Meanwhile, the electric Citroën C4 (available in the scheme) was listed at €35,740 online while the petrol version was €26,440.

The maximum cost per family-sized vehicle under the leasing scheme will be €150 monthly, excluding insurance and other optional services. There will be no additional administrative fees.

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That being said, people must agree to a (potentially renewable) leasing contract of at least three years, and at the end of the period, they can choose to either return the vehicle or purchase it (based on its updated value).

Which types of cars?

Several different car models are covered under the scheme, depending on availability.

Participants will be allowed to choose the vehicle, as long as it meets eligibility criteria and is still available. For example, if leasing a new electric car, the purchase value must be less than or equal to €47,000.

Christophe Musy, the head of Stellantis - a market leader in electric vehicles in France - told Le Parisien that they will participate in the scheme.

“We will offer nine models in 2024, eight of which will be available as soon as the system opens” adding that the new Citroën ëC3 will go for €54 per month, while the electric Fiat 500 will be priced at €89 per month.

Vehicles available for lease, https://www.ecologie.gouv.fr/

Who gets to take part?

The scheme is means-tested, and it is only available to those over 18 who can prove they live in France - there is, however, no requirement to be a French citizen.

In order to qualify, your household must have a taxable income (revenu fiscal de référence) of €15,400 per person. If you are unsure whether you would qualify, you can find the listed amount on your most recent tax declaration.

This amount comes out to a monthly net income of about €3,300 per month for a couple with one child, according to calculations by Le Parisien.

According to Le Figaro, about 25,000 people will be eligible in 2024.

Initially, people who rely on their vehicles to get to and from their place of work will be favoured. These 'heavy drivers' (gros rouleurs) include people who drive more than 8,000km as part of their professional activity and/or live at least 15km from their place of work.

For employees (salariés), you will need to ask your employer for a statement or form proving the distance. 

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The goal is that through 2024, the scheme will be extended to all people in France on low-incomes, but those who do the most driving will get first pick. 

You cannot take part if you have already benefitted from the leasing programme in the last three years.

You can test your eligibility and then begin the application process HERE.

How do I apply?

A victim of its own success, the French government announced in mid-February that it was suspending the scheme, one month after subsidising more than double the number of vehicles planned for 2024.

Due to the huge demand, the French government expects to relaunch it at the end of 2024 for 2025.

What about other EV schemes?

This is not the only programme intended to encourage motorists in France to shift toward electric vehicles.

Households can also benefit from the bonus écologique, which gives up to €7,000 in assistance when purchasing an electric vehicle costing less than €47,000. 

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

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