Now that a particular German automaker has sneezed, it appears that French automotive subsidies will catch a cold. Count France among the growing legion of countries not happy about Volkswagen's admission that some of its diesel vehicles contain software that will artificially reduce emissions levels during testing. As a result, the French government is talking about reducing or eliminating diesel subsidies that make diesel fuel about 15 cents per liter (roughly 89 cents a gallon) cheaper than gas. The change would tax gas and diesel at the same rate.

France may end the diesel tax credits as soon as the next fiscal year, Bloomberg News says, citing comments from French Environment Minister Segolene Royal this week. About two-thirds of the cars on France's roads are diesel, according to the CCFA, the French automaker association. In fact, diesels accounted for more than half of the new light-duty vehicles sold in Europe last year. That may drop to 35 percent by 2022 in part because of the scandal, according to automotive consultant LMC Automotive. Things could change even more France is considering letting more vehicles qualify for the 10,000-euro incentive for switching from old diesels to new plug-in vehicles.

Last month, VW said that its cheater software might be installed in as many as 11 million vehicles, forcing the German automaker to set aside $7.3 billion to address the fallout from the scandal. Among other issues, VW and its Audi division were stripped of its Green Car of the Year Awards for the first time in the history of the awards bestowed by Green Car Journal. The scandal also forced Martin Winterkorn to resign as VW's CEO last month after eight years on the job and is delaying a number of the automaker's upcoming projects.

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