The government is preparing its proposal

Candidate Emmanuel Macron promised an “affordable” electric vehicle offering. The government is preparing this file, which may require significant subsidies.

An electric car for 100 euros a month for the most modest French: this measure, promised by the government, is still unclear and may require significant subsidies.

“We will roll out an affordable offer of electric vehicles (…) by creating leasing mechanisms to support the most modest households,” candidate Macron promised in his first campaign speech on March 17.

The device, pioneered by Socialist candidate Anna Hidalgo, will be added to a range of buying aids that have skyrocketed sales of electric vehicles.

Reaching up to €11,000 with a recycling bonus, excluding local assistance, these subsidies have nonetheless benefited the richest and most professional households more than the humblest households: the market is dominated by Tesla and Renault Zoé, albeit more expensive than their thermal equivalents.

At least 100,000 electric vehicles for lease per year

The aim of the measure is clear: the government wants to reduce CO2 emissions from the roads while at the same time ensuring that everyone can travel on four wheels to the heart of metropolitan areas where diesel engines will soon be banned. Thus, the humblest households would avoid old used cars and be protected from the cost of gasoline.

However, the contours of this “social leasing” must be clarified. In March, Emmanuel Macron’s campaign team explained that the device would target social workers, youth and the general public, subject to availability of resources.

It will aim to rent at least 100,000 electric vehicles per year, with an estimated cost of €50 million in the first year of the system, which appears to be a very low amount of €500 per car.

The timetable for this measure is not yet known, but it should be included in the amended finance law, explained on Tuesday in France 5 the new Energy Transition Minister, Agnès Panier-Runachet, in charge of the case. “It will take a device reliable enough that the French can immediately benefit from it,” she stressed.

Charging stations

Manufacturers such as Renault, Hyundai or China’s MG have recently launched long-term rental offers that could meet this measure. In particular, if the first rent (contribution) is guaranteed by the Caisse des dépôts “for couples who earn Smic or a little more”, as Emmanuel Macron clarified at the end of April.

Under this formula, still rare among private individuals in France, a manufacturer or rental company offers a car at an attractive monthly price and collects it to resell it three to four years later, adding penalties if it has been driven more than a kilometer or damaged.

Nissan, for example, is offering its Leaf for 99 euros a month for three and a half years, for a maximum of 30,000 km.

Dacia shows its spring at 120 euros per month with 40,000 kilometers for 4 years and the first rent of 7,700 euros is reduced to zero if maximum state subsidies apply. With a range of 300 kilometers, the small electric car is already a big hit and the queues are getting longer.

On the Stellantis side, Fiat shows its small 500 of 119 euros per month with a contribution of 2,500 euros, while Peugeot shows its e-208 at 149 euros per month with a contribution of 4,000 euros.

However, production will have to be carried out in factories, while the automotive industry is severely hampered by shortages. After many years of decline, the cost of batteries is also likely to follow the rise in raw material prices.

The government will also have to speed up the deployment of electrical terminals. “This is a serious obstacle for citizens who do not have a garage at their disposal,” emphasizes Fabien Nevy from the Cetelem Automotive Observatory. “Humble people were often forced to leave large urban centers to find housing and travel a lot by car. Autonomy, fear of being left without fuel are serious problems.”

Also, can this help help cars made in France? The Dacia Spring is made in China, with French factories focusing on mid-range electric vehicles.