France boosts electric cars to cut emissions, oil imports

Ecology and Sustainable Development Minister Jean-Louis Borloo wants to make France a world leader in the electric car market and reduce the country’s oil imports by 5 million tonnes by 2030.

Oct 2nd, 2009

Doris Leblond
OGJ Correspondent

PARIS, Oct. 2 -- Ecology and Sustainable Development Minister Jean-Louis Borloo wants to make France a world leader in the electric car market and reduce the country’s oil imports by 5 million tonnes by 2030.

In 2008, France’s oil consumption amounted to 85 million tons.

The push to develop electric cars is part of the French government’s plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 17.5 million tonnes by putting 2 million “decarbonated” vehicles on the country’s roads by 2020. That would represent a 3% drop from emissions in 2007. Of the 30 million cars now in France, only a few thousand are electric or hybrid vehicles. France wants to have 4 million such vehicles by 2025.

The government’s ambitious plan includes financial support for research into the manufacture of electric batteries, production of electric and hybrid plug-in cars competitively priced with conventional vehicles, and construction of a nationwide network of battery-charging stations, Borloo said Oct. 1. Moreover, the electricity needed to power these cars must not be generated from fossil-fueled plants.

The program will be funded in part by billions of euros of government investments and loans, including €1.5 billion for electrical plugs for public use in recharging vehicles. The government expects a total of 4.4 million private and public electrical plugs to be installed across France by 2020 at a total investment of €4 billion. Private investment of €2 billion will be needed to fit out households and workplaces.

French auto manufacturers foresee the launch of a French electric car by end 2010, with the first hybrid plug-in cars on the road by 2012.

Just a few weeks earlier Borloo announced France would invest €7 billion to reduce road traffic through rail transport of freight. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said last month a new carbon tax of €17/tonne of carbon dioxide emitted will be imposed in 2010 on business and individuals.

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