Drivers of heavy, dirty cars pay stiff penalty tax in France

The new year has brought some new, tighter restrictions for drivers in France, particularly for those driving heavy, polluting cars. As of January 1, the government has revised its malus écologique, a one-time penalty tax for registering bulky, CO2-emitting cars, to include a lot more ICE vehicles, even some of the most popular budget models. 

As of January 1, drivers of cars emitting 118 g/km of CO2 pay €50 (about $55), and this increases rapidly with higher CO2 emissions, with a maximum ceiling for vehicles reaching €60,000 ($65,590). Vehicles weighing 1,600 kg/1.6 tonnes or more will have to pay between €10 and €30 per additional kilo. 

That means a slew of vehicles will be affected, including the entry-level Peugeot 208, priced at €19,200. The 1.2 PureTech 75 hp version emits 120 g/km, which racks up to a €100 penalty. The same applies to the Dacia Sandero SCe 75, priced at €11,990, which also comes with a €100 penalty.

Since 2022, large, heavy combustion vehicles already had to pay a penalty tax. But now cars weighing more than 1,600 kg are included, which factors in a lot of SUVs and larger vehicles – and that tax gets added to cars already exceeding the CO2 limits. For cars weighing between 1,600 and 1,799 kg, drivers pay €10 per kilo of excess weight. Heavier cars pay more tax, with all vehicles over 2,100 kg paying €30 per extra kilo. 

Hybrid vehicles, for this year at least, won’t be penalized for the extra weight that the hybridization incurs. Neither will hefty electric or plug-in hybrids of any size. Vehicles exempt from both CO2 and weight-based penalties are BEVs, fuel cell electric (FCEV), and PHEV models. For the latter, range in the city must exceed 50 km, or about 31 miles, which basically excludes no cars. Large families that need large vehicles also are granted special reductions. 

Electrek’s Take

French president Emmanuel Macron has already unveiled new incentives to sway buyers away from Chinese models toward French and European ones, including a new €100 per month leasing scheme for EU-made electric cars. The French government also announced a big rollout of cash incentives for first-time EV buyers, as long as they bought cars made in the EU. So it all serves as a double whammy to drive consumers toward EVs, preferably made in Europe – and that’s the whole point of a penalty tax, to limit the number of polluting vehicles on the road, and to drive consumer behavior to help stimulate the automobile industry to push the technology forward and develop more cars. And least that’s the idea.

France has committed to producing over 1 million EVs by the end of 2027. But it’s not just focusing on cars: The country has a €700 million package to boost commuter trains to hopefully get fewer people to use their cars, electric or otherwise, altogether.

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