Only two and a half months remain until the revision of France’s BEV purchase support scheme.
The French Government intends to significantly revise the Bonus ecologique scheme to support the purchase of BEVs from 2024, but the road ahead is not easy and is fraught with multiple problems. This support measure is part of a system of Bonus (incentive payments) and Malus (fines) levied according to CO2 emissions, and falls under the Bonus part of the scheme, which was launched in 2007 and provides incentives of around EUR 5,000 for the purchase of small cars with CO2 emissions of 60g/km or less (BEVs and FCEVs). It was introduced early on in the European region and continues to this day. Until now, the only criterion was the vehicle’s CO2 emissions, but from next year an ‘environmental score’ will be introduced, calculated on the basis of the carbon footprint of BEV production.
According to the draft published in July, the environmental score will be calculated by adding the CO2 emissions of the steel, aluminium and other materials used in the production process of the BEV, the battery and the intermediate processing and assembly, as well as the CO2 emissions during the transport process to the distribution point in France. The complexity of the calculation method may seem obvious just by writing this, but the data required for the calculation must be submitted to ADEME (the Agency for Environment and Energy Management) for approval. According to the latest information, the final draft will be published in September, but the implementation of the new system appears to have been brought forward to 15 December, which means that car manufacturers will only have about two and a half months.
The new system’s unusually rapid pace is due to the rapidly growing sales of BEVs made outside Europe, namely Tesla and Chinese-brand vehicles: the top ten BEVs sold in France in the first half of 2023 are the German-made Tesla Model Y in first place, followed by the Chinese-brand Dacia Spring (Dacia itself is a Renault brand but manufactured in China), the Chinese-made (partly US-made) Model 3 in sixth place and the Chinese-branded MG 4 in seventh place – three out of ten models are made in China. While the French manufacturers’ new BEV products are not yet ready for the market, emerging manufacturers such as BYD and Xpeng, who are increasing their offensive in Europe, are making inroads into the market, and they wanted to make an early move anyway.
The inclusion of the transport process to France in the environmental score calculation criteria is expected to result in Asian manufacturers, including Japanese manufacturers, scoring higher than their European counterparts and some of them being excluded from the incentive payments, but it is questionable whether this measure will really protect European-made BEVs. Both the government and manufacturers should consider once and for all why Chinese-made BEVs are beginning to be accepted by consumers. Also, if it is known that the new system will start in mid-December, there will certainly be a rush demand. If there is a reactionary drop at the beginning of the year, the market may rise and fall significantly. It may be necessary to revise the system that has been in place for more than 15 years in the light of the current situation, but it is undeniable that this is too hasty.