This spring, France will start paying as much as 10,000 euros (about $11,000 US) worth of incentives to get people to trade in their decade-plus-old diesel vehicles for electric vehicles, all for the sake of cleaner air. With about four out of five vehicles on the road in France being oil burners, that makes a lot of French folks eligible for the bribe. And such a policy would more or less would reverse some of the impact of France imposing lower taxes on diesel fuel than gasoline.
The upshot is French automaker Renault and its sister company Nissan could benefit. An $11,000 incentive would cut the out-of-pocket price of the Renault Zoe in half while reducing the price of a Nissan Leaf by about 25 percent.
Electric-vehicle sales might need all the help that they can get in Western Europe. Some analysts say EV sales, which surged 52 percent last year, may have peaked there because the classic first adopters have already jumped into the market and there's not a deep enough base of potential plug-in vehicle customers to bring up the rear. Low global oil prices probably won't help, but a big government incentive just might.