France pauses EV subsidy program for 2024 citing an unexpected influx of applicants

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Just four months after France’s Prime Minister announced a new EV subsidy program to incentivize drivers to go all-electric, the government is putting a halt to the savings, at least for the rest of the year.

On October 22, 2023 French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron announced a new “social leasing” program for French residents with the goal of providing payments of €100 ($109) per month for low-income drivers with down payments  subsidized by the local government

Automakers took Macron’s price targets and managed to bring those prices down even further, providing eligible drivers with EV lease options as low as €40 (~$43) with free charging included.

To qualify for the program, French residents must have an annual income of no more than €15,400 ($16,815), travel more than 8,000 km (4,971 miles) per year, and live at least 15 km (9 miles) from their workplace. Those eligible can then take advantage of a three-year lease with the option to purchase their EV thereafter. The contract also covers insurance costs and cancellation in the event of death, disability, or unemployment.

The French government set initial goals for the number of available EV leases this year as automakers worked to deliver enough eligible vehicles for the program to actually begin, but it appears its math was off.

An unexpected number of citizens in France have applied for the EV subsidy program, leading officials to expand the program a bit before pausing it altogether.

Tesla’s Model Y, one of the EVs currently eligible for France’s EV subsidy program / Source: Tesla.com

France to expand EV subsidy program before 2024 halt

Per Reuters, the French government announced Monday that it is already planning to pause the social leasing program. France had initially budgeted 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion) to help subsidize 20,000 leases this year, but demand for the program was higher than anticipated.

As a result, the government in France says it is bolstering those eligible leases to 50,000 EVs this year and then halting the subsidy program when that number is reached. Eligible leases will become available again in 2025.

In addition to the leases, France also offers residents cash incentives between 5,000 and 7,000 euros ($5,385-$6,460) to further incentivize drivers to go electric. For those EVs to qualify for both subsidy programs in France, they must meet certain limitations on the amount of carbon produced during their manufacturing and delivery – instantly disqualifying China-made EVs.

Some EVs that do currently qualify include the Fiat 500e, the Peugeot E-208, and the Tesla Model Y. The Model 3, unfortunately, does not qualify.

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