France Cracking Down On Diesel Engines In Push For Cleaner City Air Photo:

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Trevor Collett | Dec, 02 2014 | 2 Comments

France has taken another step towards lowering smog levels over its cities, proposing a ‘crack down’ on diesel-engined vehicles in future years.

Under the plan, new diesel-powered cars would be gradually phased-out between now and 2020 and a new identification system would be introduced from next year.

The system would identify and track vehicles with high emission outputs, and could eventually be a trigger for limited access to cities for certain vehicles.

France was one of the first markets to see diesel sales exceed petrol-powered cars, with current diesel passenger car ownership believed to be as high as 80 percent.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls declared his country’s love of diesels “a mistake”, claiming the government will “progressively undo that, intelligently and pragmatically”.

France’s current rules and fuel prices heavily favour those who purchase small, French-made diesel passenger cars, but the government will move to change this with an additional two percent excise on diesel fuel.

Diesel-powered cars in France are also set to become more expensive, as the current tax advantage at the time of purchase is lessened.

France’s air pollution problems came to a head earlier this year, when the government banned all cars with even number plates from driving in Paris - for a short while.

After five days of heavy smog, the controversial ban was ordered by the government but was lifted after just a few hours when favourable weather conditions cleared the air.

A diesel-ban in France could have global implications, as a lack of development from French carmakers may see a change to model line-ups in other countries as well.

Also, if other countries were considering a similar ban, that fact that the French government has jumped first could be the excuse they’ve been looking for.

For some, the 'change' has already begun, with Lexus long eschewing diesels for a focus on petrol-electric hybrids.

Speaking recently with website Just-Auto, Lexus Europe Alain Uyttenhoven his company is ahead of the curve on ever-tightening regulations.

"The next big discussion will be about particulates. CO2 is not behind us, but we have to go to 99g/km by 2020. So, diesel has been growing because that CO2 average is easier to achieve with diesel. But the cost of purifying a diesel car is going to rise, so in the future, these engines are going to cost a lot more," he said.

"In France three quarters of cars are diesels, so we will see big changes coming. For us, [petrol] hybrid is the answer".

Photo: Paris shrowded in fog, by Dennis Moellergren.

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