France is making EVs and plug-in hybrids the basis for $9 billion program

The French government is putting together an 8 billion euro ($8.8 billion) bailout package to help the auto industry recover from the coronavirus pandemic, and electric cars will be an important part of it.

The aid package, as reported by Automotive News Europe, includes more generous incentives for electric cars and plug-in hybrids, as well as a vehicle-scrapping program intended to get the oldest, most polluting cars off the road.

Speaking Tuesday at a Valeo parts factory in northern France, President Emmanuel Macron said he wanted France to be the world’s largest producer of electric cars. He called on automakers to repatriate production, as well as commit to developing new models domestically.

To help create demand for more electric cars, Macron said the government would increase EV purchase incentives to 7,000 euros ($7,700) for cars costing up to 45,000 euros ($49,000), between June 1 and December 31. Businesses qualify for a 5,000 euro ($5,500 payment.

France will also add a purchase incentive of 2,000 euros ($2,200) for plug-in hybrids, provided they have at least 50 kilometers (31 miles) of electric range, and cost no more than 50,000 euros ($55,000), and the government will double a trade-in premium for older internal-combustion cars.

2019 Peugeot e-208

2019 Peugeot e-208

Income requirements for this program have been relaxed, so 75% of French households qualify, Macron said. The increased premiums will be available June 1, and last until 200,000 cars are sold.

Neighboring Germany increased its electric-car incentives for 2020, and sales surged early in the year, showing that more generous incentives can have an impact.

Such incentive programs might help get the European fleet cleaner; so far tougher European Union emissions regulations haven’t helped as a shift to SUVs has gotten in the way.

Big fines are still possible for automakers that don’t meet emissions targets, however.

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