France to make the planet great again by banning gas, diesel cars in 2040

France’s new government is setting a new goal for the country, one which might be difficult to accomplish. Environmental Minister Nicolas Hulot announced a plan to ban the sale of all gas and diesel cars in the country in 2040. After that, only hybrid and electric vehicles would be available for sale. From the Telegraph:


The radical measures were unveiled at a press conference as part of French president Emmanuel Macron’s pledge to “make the planet great again”.

Mr Hulot, a former star wildlife TV presenter, announced “the end of the sale of petrol or vehicles between now and 2040″ and a pledge to make France carbon neutral by 2050…

The move was, he said, a “veritable revolution”, adding that reaching the target would be “tough”, particularly for carmakers, but said that France’s car industry was well equipped to make the switch.

For the moment, sales of hybrid and electric vehicles are still lagging in Europe, probably because they still cost more than gas and diesel vehicles. From the AFP:

Motorists still continue to opt overwhelmingly for petrol and diesel models, usually substantially cheaper.

In 2016, hybrid and electric cars accounted for only 3.6 percent of new cars registered in Western Europe, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA).

The greatest spurt in sales was for non-rechargeble hybrids, which rose 27.3 percent compared to 2015. Electric car registrations jumped by seven percent, while plug-in hybrids grew by only 3.9 percent.

However, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecast published today predicts the cost of electric cars will continue to drop and be even with the cost of gas-powered cars in 8 years. The same forecast predicts electric car sales will surpass sales of gas-powered cars in 2038.


In Europe, almost 67 percent of new cars sold will be electrified in 2040, and 58 percent of sales in the U.S. and 51 percent in China, BNEF said. Though there’s  uncertainty in the U.S., where President Donald Trump could dramatically disrupt electric vehicle growth by withdrawing support for the technology in the world’s second biggest car market.

“The next 6 to 8 years become really critical,” McKerracher said. “If those volume amounts falter dramatically, then some of those cost reductions may not come to pass and that will affect the crossover point and therefore the overall adoption level.”

It’s not completely clear from the story but the BNEF forecast appears to be about zero-emission vehicles, i.e. not hybrids. Maybe the French goal is attainable, though it’s worth noting that the BNEF forecast is considered the most bullish. The International Energy Agency is seen as less optimistic in its estimates.

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