By on December 2, 2014

2006 Peugeot 908 RC Concept

For the longest time, France loved the diesel. Alas, the thrill has gone away.

Just-Auto reports the French government introduced a program aimed at removing the most polluting vehicles — diesel-powered passenger vehicles in particular — from the roadways, along with provisions for local officials to limit access to said vehicles. Prime minister Manuel Valls laid it out as such:

In France, we have long favoured the diesel engine. This was a mistake, and we will progressively undo that, intelligently and pragmatically.

Presently, 80 percent of the nation’s drivers operate diesel-powered vehicles, thanks to the lower price for the fuel over gasoline. Thus, to encourage them to consider more eco-friendly options, the government will raise the excise tax on diesel to €2 ($2.50 USD) per liter, and will begin in 2015 to identify vehicles by the amount of pollution they produce. Further, energy minister Segolene Royal introduced earlier in 2014 a tax credit of up to €10,000 ($13,500) for exchanging their diesels for an electric vehicle, while other subsidies linked to the new plan will help drivers in anti-pollution areas convert their old diesels.

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76 Comments on “France Begins Divorce Proceedings Against Diesel...”


  • avatar
    Signal11

    Nice. Punish the new vehicle owners with cleaner diesel engines instead of penalizing all the old dirty oil burners that are the real problem.

    • 0 avatar
      spw

      Problem is that the best diesels (US EPA not EuroVI) have 20-30x more NOx than old petrol engines. And it is killing their cities – Paris often has to ban the cars from the streets due to pollution and air being over safety levels.

      Old diesels were already penalized for years, problem is that even EuroVI is not clean enough – not when you have big cities and millions of cars in them.

      Another thing is that even turbo petrols with high pressure fuel pumps emit a lot of particles… germans managed to delay EU decision on applying same particle limits as diesels, but it is coming in 2017 as well.

  • avatar
    FThorn

    Good. Hate diesel exhaust. Former diesel auto owner, by the way.

  • avatar
    theupperonepercent

    Diesel is a great way to get lots of torque. EV is even better..

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      A motor like the 2.0TFSI is just as torquey as a diesel (once you factor in gearing) without all the stinky emissions.

      Diesels are peaky, heavy, expensive, sluggish in response and terrible sounding. You want diesel torque on a gas engine, get a tiny turbo and some low duration cams… and have fun w/a 4K redline

      No thx

      Good riddance

      • 0 avatar
        ect

        Um, it looks like things have changed since the ’70s.

        Almost exactly 2 years ago we test drove a Passat. Very near the end of the drive, I commented to the sales rep on the pickup it had, at which point he told us that this car had a diesel.

        If he hadn’t, we wouldn’t have guessed. The car didn’t sound like a diesel, smell like a diesel or drive like I’d have expected a diesel to drive.

  • avatar
    Beemernator

    In the fifties France killed off their domestic entire luxury car industry with punitive taxation. Looks like history will be repeating itself.

  • avatar
    insalted42

    Typical France…instead of putting incentives in place for new auto buyers to jump for EVs or PHEVs and let the market naturally that way, they decide to immediately PUNISH consumers who, until now, have mostly been buying Diesels because of the ridiculous taxes the government has been placing on regular fuel-powered cars (clean diesel was seen as a better alternative a few years ago).

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I see a lot of reactionary behavior around pollution.

      “CO2 is destroying the world! Push diesel!”
      “No, wait! Particulates kill people! Ban diesel!”

      I would not be surprised if at some point in the future hydrogen goes through this same process.

      • 0 avatar
        kosmo

        You got it:

        Whatever we’re doing now, it’s wrong.

        Whatever the solution is, it will also turn out to be wrong.

        In my business we call these folks CAVE People (Citizens Against Virtually Everything)!

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          Europeans, particularly in the South, aren’t innately as happy to replace cars every two years the way Americans are.

          The Car industry is huge and massively powerful in Europe.

          Combine the two, and constantly changing laws to encourage faster fleet turnover than would happen “naturally”, becomes an attractive solution.

          What this means, is that the lead the Japanese, and particularly Toyota, had in fuel efficient gas cars over the Euros, have now shrunk to relative parity. And the industry and labor unions wants to recoup the cost of getting there.

          • 0 avatar
            NeilM

            @stuki: The average age of passenger cars in the US is currently 11.4 years, so you might want to rethink the basis of your argument.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            NeilM; the cars last on in the sub-subprime underworld, which in Europe is more likely to be served by public transport.

            But amongst virtually all who can even remotely obtain financing for a newer one, the turnover is much more rapid.

            A more relevant statistic, would be a country-to-country, or market-to-market, or income-bracket-by-income-bracket, or car-price-by-car-price, or brand-by-brand, comparison of time-to-first-trade-in for new cars.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            You’re dancing around the fact that you said it was about fleet turnover, which has nothing to do with when specific people buy new cars and everything to do with how long cars are in service.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            @Stuki, average age of cars at tradein in the US is 6.5 years.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Stuki,
            Not always the case, I have two newish vehicles 09, 10, and I daily drive a 2003, and for a year or two I drove a 1976 as a daily, that was a little after the 10 purchase.

            New vehicles no longer offer anything I’m interested in spending my money on, and by the looks of the average age of vehicles there are quite a number that agree with that and are unable to find something appealing and reasonably priced in the bland and narrow design market we’re forced to choose from.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            @FormerFF. 6.5 years! That’s longer than I expected. Almost makes me wonder if the average is skewed away from the median by a bunch of very old people who are still on their last car…. Or I may just be caught in a bit of a privileged parallel universe where everyone either do 24-36 month leases, or behave as if they do.

            @CJinSD, I’m not dancing, nor tying to “win” an internet argument. Just spent enough time listening to Europeans lamenting how us stupid Americans insist on always living on the fast end of the depreciation curve for cars, instead of taking better care of them so they last longer to where numbers that seem to fly in the face of that strikes me as suspicious enough to warrant further inquiry. I realize it’s easy to fall into the trap of discarding all data that doesn’t fit a preconceived superstition, but it is equally problematic to take every “statistic” at face value, without being aware of exactly what it is it really measures.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            The problem is that you were listening to Europeans. They love to look at the US as perpetually behaving badly rather than looking at the reality of what the EU is doing to their own daily lives.

  • avatar
    John R

    I wonder…Someone will have to educate me, but it seems that in order to make diesel emissions “clean” – or, at least, clean enough to be a par to petrol – an auto manufacturer has to go through a lot more trouble with engineering.

    Then it looks like that irritant is passed down to the consumer in the form of added maintenance with the requirement of owners having to now monitor their urea levels.

    Anyhow, I agree that targeting older diesel vehicles by offering incentives for trading them in may have been, ostensibly, a more elegant solution.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    With all the nuclear electricity generated in France, it seems like an EV, PHEV, or EREV would be the way to go.

    • 0 avatar
      kosmo

      There is actually a link in another version of this article that claims that a large scale move to EVs in France would overstress their electrical generation system.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        One thing France has a lot of is Nuclear Power Plants, even when I was working in Germany 1972-1980. We sure saw a lot of them as we traveled from Germany, through France, to Portugal to see my dad’s family.

        Since France bet heavily on Nuclear, it is reasonable to assume that they can ramp up output as the need arises. But the aged copper network may be strained unless vastly expanded to accommodate demand that did not exist until now.

        I do not believe that Electrical output or generation is a problem. I believe getting the power to the customers may be.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        Are they looking at the timing of when the vehicles charge? I charge mine overnight when demand is lower. My house uses more electricity on summer afternoons than any other time.

        The car draws about the same amount of current as does an electric dryer, but it does so for a longer period of time.

  • avatar
    Morea

    “the government will raise the excise tax on diesel to €2 ($2.50 USD) per liter”

    By my calculation that is $9.46 per gallon in taxes!

    • 0 avatar
      Bill Wade

      I noted that too. That’s crazy.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        When I was over there in 2011, the price of mid-grade gas was over $12/gallon. Admittedly, the exchange rate was atrocious that summer. Diesel was a little cheaper, but not dramatically cheaper, maybe $10-11? It’s mostly taxes already.

        People do not just drive diesels because the fuel is cheaper. For a given level of mileage, the diesel will give better performance too. Look at what sort of weezy gas motor it takes to get 45mpg in a car the size of a Golf. Then look at the performance of a 45mpg Golf TDI. You can get some of the performance back with a hybrid, but that costs as much as a diesel, probably more over the long term. A modern diesel gives the sort of lazy torque people used to like in low-po V8s, but with 3x the fuel economy.

        Of course, as Norway shows with their Government created love affair with electric cars, European governments are more than willing to warp the car market any way they choose.

  • avatar

    I recall reading a chart of French registration fees once. They favor manuals with small engines, penalize big engines, penalize autoboxes.

    VW sold GTI with 1.4, 1.6 or 1.8 engines for this reason in this market. I don’t know today….

    A typical US Mercedes with a 6 or 8 and autobox would carry huge yearly registration fees. They clearly favored diesel, and the only loophole for an auto box was with a diesel. I suppose for those who cannot physically shift, they had to do something.

    My TDI is cleaner at the pipe than my gasser cars. I had an old diesel, which always had that light oil on the back hatch, but the new one has no soot, in the exhaust, even….

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Odd, because as per an article on jalopnik, autos are easier to program to meet emissions than manuals because the computer can better control engine inputs when it also controls shifts.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Doesn’t Japan have a similar thing for size of car and engine, dictating your color of plate and taxation? Hence the Kei cars on yellow plates or something, while your Chaser Mark III is on a white plate.

  • avatar
    Mr. K

    Have they thought this through? Due to global warming they are not able to run their nukes along the rivers because the water is too hot for the fish and the added thermal load of the hot discharge water (cooling not from the core) will kill the fish.

    Perhaps they will start (or already have) installing solar?

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I have a love hate relationship with diesel (have owned 4, currently none).

    I love the torque, in the mountains the driving dynamics are so much better than gas. I like the mpg

    I hate the premium at the pump, I really hate the maintenance costs that are now so I prevalent.

    As for France, it was my understanding the new diesels were clean or as clean as gas. How does this help? If you must punish, why not incentivize folks to crush older oil burners?

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    This is what happens when narcissistic asshats think they’re smarter than markets. They have a diesel fleet now because megalomaniacs thought diesel was better and created regulations to punish drivers of gasoline cars. If gasoline taxes weren’t used as a ‘market force’ to drive everyone into diesels, then diesels would have only sold to people that needed their relative advantages. The majority of buyers would have bought cleaner, cheaper gas powered cars. Now the people that survive the market disruption as car buyers will drive electric cars, revealing their folly in a painful way that would be avoided if electric cars were only bought by people that want them due to their suitability for their personal use.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @CJinSD,
      An the US doesn’t penalise diesel.

      What a silly self centred comment.

      What about the 58% tax on Brazilian ethanol? It half the price of US corn ethanol.

      What about the EPA’s diesel regulations? Diesel engine improvements must be double that of gasoline.

      What about you different diesel specifications. You guys use a lower quality diesel than the EU and most of the modern world, combine that with near on impossible diesel emissions and what have you got?

      The US is a gasoline biased economy. The French are (were) a diesel bias economy. What is the difference?

      French arrogance is worse than your arrogance?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The deck is stacked against you. I’m not in favor of US ethanol use. It’s a rent paid by US consumers for not being much smarter than you are. There is no way that Brazilian ethanol can serve the same purpose, since the reason for US ethanol use is that of politicians bribing a powerful farm lobby.

        We’re not a gasoline based economy. We’re an oil based economy. Oil is not uniform in consistency or properties, even within a single barrel. It tends to segregate by gravity. Some percentage of it is suitable for refinement into gasoline, some into diesel, and some into other both lighter and denser finished products. There is a tendency of diesel sheep to think that one merely picks a pump like they picked their sexual preference. The fact is that making use of oil requires diverse consumption. We use diesel here for transportation of goods and in heavy equipment. We use gasoline for personal transportation. In this way, we make use of most of the oil we consume. We do run a little heavy in gasoline consumption, while Europeans have been running heavy in diesel consumption. For this reason, ships travel back and forth between the EU and the US carrying our extra diesel and their extra gas. The world would be a more efficient place if the EU hadn’t promoted diesel use and the US EPA/CA CARB hadn’t had worked so hard to discourage diesel use in the US. That way, energy wouldn’t be wasted shipping refined fuel to make up for the market disruptions created by imbeciles; imbeciles that you can get behind.

        • 0 avatar
          jimble

          @CJinSD: Umm… one does not “pick” one’s sexual preference. You’d have an easier time trying to run a gas engine on diesel than you would trying to turn me straight.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @CJinSD,
          All modern OECD economies can be classified as an “oil” based economy.

          The US plays around with it’s energy policy/regualtions as much as the French or many other nations.

          Or is it the US is the best at it and arrives with the best outcomes?

          What ever the crude is fractioned off to isn’t the problem then.

          So, why you initial comment?

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            I was pointing out that this is a perfect example of what happens when people farm out their decision making to bureaucrats. I’m sorry that you couldn’t figure it out, but I don’t think there is anything you can figure out on your own. The US is increasingly full of insipid, selfish, cowardly people: just like France and Australia. When the US has an object lesson due to the progressive poison it’s drinking, I point it out just like I do when it is the French that realize they’re all breathing soot because someone lobbied for cars that smoke and everyone else was too spineless to stand up for themselves and tell their government that they can decide what to drive on their own.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            What is he talking about, as already mentioned, we didn’t even have many basic emissions equipment on diesels until fairly recently, and even when diesel was notably cheaper than gas, few even considered it.

            Both GM and Ford used diesels in midsize trucks in the 80s, the few still running report MPG in the 40s and 50s, yet the 60 degree V6s, in GMs case, dominated the sales charts, and both companies dropped the diesels.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        @BAFO – Today there’s much less incentive to buy light duty diesel engines (upgrade?), but we were never big fans.

        But with everything equal, diesels would still lose.

        For the last previous decades in the US, diesels were emissions free and smog exempt. And diesel fuel was the much cheaper than gas. We still moved away from diesel engines in a big way. And they were dead reliable, simple to work on and as cheap to buy as the upgraded gas V8 or V6.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          Seriously, diesel was never given a penalty, diesels didn’t even have minimal emissions equipment until recently when they suffocated them in it, diesel was notably cheaper up until 10 years ago.

          GM and Ford had diesels in their small trucks, reports of MPG in the 40s and 50s from existing trucks, and still they were so unpopular both companies dropped for the gassers.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        No the US doesn’t penalize diesel in fact for the longest time they encouraged it by either not having emissions regulations or having very lax regulations compared to those for gas engines in the same class of vehicles. Now they are requiring diesel powered vehicles to have similar emissions to gas engines. So no they are not penalizing diesel they just took away the incentives and leveled the playing field.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I see a lot of Veyron in that Peugeot concept, and I freaking love it. It looks so expensive.

  • avatar
    55_wrench

    The entire fleet of buses servicing the Google complex in Mountain View are clean burning, completely odorless diesel-powered Van Hools (a Belgian company). Other older buses not built by Van Hool are still running engine management / fuel schemes that provide none of the smoke and smell we associate with older rigs.

    If they can accomplish that, what’s the problem?

    On another note: hmmm dat windshield A-pillar. It’s 1959 again!

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Well with a bus with a 6 figure price tag it is economical to repower them to be able to keep running them longer. In CA the option of older diesel MD and HD trucks was either repower/retrofit to meet current emissions, scrap or remove from the state. On an old car a re-power or retrofit would cost more than the car was worth.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    The French government has been looking at way to increase the diesel tax for a little while now. What else would be better than to brand diesel as a polluter that requires additional taxation.

    The French government needs money to maintain the Socialist dream as it is costing much more than they earn. But Utopia is very expensive.

    The French government is also looking at ways to tax the diesel used on farms etc as well.

    I do think this is more about revenue raising that actual the government being “green” and saving France.

    Remember GDI gasoline engines emit more particulates than a diesel.

    When attempting to sell and market an unsavoury idea why does the truth need to be used.

    http://www.lawandtax-news.com/asp/France_Divided_On_Diesel_Tax_Rise____59985.html

    • 0 avatar
      kosmo

      And that, ladies and gentlemen, is most likely the TRUTH of the matter.

      Once you sift through the chaff, it turns out to be mostly about tax revenue.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Al,

      A recent study showed that diesels are also “worse than diesels.” Here’s the lead, you can Google for the rest:

      “On-road nitrogen oxides emission levels of modern diesel cars are on average about seven times higher than the limit set by the Euro 6 emission standard, which went into effect in September 2014. This is the key finding from a new report published today in Berlin by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), an independent research organization.”

      The other fact is that smog in Paris are much worse than smog days in comparably-sized US cities like Chicago. That’s partly down to diesel exhaust, and French people are rebelling. The government’s just catching-up on this issue.

      You can tell the difference the moment you get out of the airport terminal. It’s a wonder it took them so long to figure it out.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Come on you know a diesel Jihadist like Al would never let the facts get in the way of his pro diesel arguments.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @heavy handle,
        What you state is a partially correct response.

        But I had a link in one article that stated that the age of the diesels in Paris also played a major role in the damage being caused. I wish I could find the link again as it was carried out by a university and was comprehensive.

        The age of the diesel and/or vehicle fleet in France isn’t like in Australia or the US. They don’t turn over cars at the same rate. So many diesel vehicles in France are using Euro 3 and 4 standards.

        Also, modern diesel don’t emit more NOx than a gasoline engine. The technology for the reduction in NOx has been around from the 50’s when they started using ammonia/urea at coal powered electrical generators.

        DEF is used to reduce NOx and is very successful at it. CO2 is greatly reduced using diesel more so than gasoline. This is the primary reason for the French moving towards diesel and the rest of the EU.

        I do believe that the rate of taxation of all energies should be the same especially diesel vs gasoline. Even here in Australia we have a higher rate of taxation on diesel to offset an old situation where heavy vehicles used the diesel and generated more wear on the transport infrastructure.

        But, what makes our system fairer is there is no advantage or disadvantage towards diesel vs gas/petrol.

        The effects of regulatory changes like emissions can’t be accurately identified for a long period of time, years in most cases.

        As well now you have GDI gasoline engines emitting 100 times more particulates than diesel. I wonder why the French government didn’t address this at the same time.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          If you want to tax energy the same, diesel should be taxed at a higher rate per gallon than gasoline.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          I thought the GDI/particulates thing was only during cold starts. I’ll have to look for the original source.

          It looks like France is following your advice about taxing gasoline and diesel the same. They’ve been talking about it for years, good to see them follow through. Not coincidentally, the new Renault Twingo, Peugeot 108 and Citroen C1 are gas-only. The writing was on the wall.

          • 0 avatar
            spw

            thats because small diesels are too expensive… they only start making more sense when cars are more expensive.

            French have good small petrol engines (new generations) and have better hybrids than germans… plus they sell EVs as well.

            Germany would never do anything like this due to their reliance on diesel engines in VW/BMW/MB.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    How idiotic. Get ready for another French Revolution, commies.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité….Dieselité!

  • avatar
    PJmacgee

    mother of god! What a sexy beast! (front fascia is a little overworked, and the headlights, meh. But otherwise…)

  • avatar
    koshchei

    I wish they’d bring the 908 RC to market. What a gorgeous car, and a sort of modern homage to the the Tatra 603, with its transverse mid-engine 5.5L diesel V-12.

  • avatar
    RHD

    It’s then next-generation Chrysler 300!

    Pretty cool how the French aren’t so dang conservative with their car designs. Cars can be something other than Accord clones, or just ugly like the Juke.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The Renault-Nissan Alliance is the world leader in BEVs, having sold 200k of them so far. The Leaf is their most numerous example.

    I wonder if they had an influencing hand in this decision.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    So instead of dropping draconian taxes on gasoline, let’s leverage extremely draconian taxes on 80% of our motoring population, a percentage that our policies created.

  • avatar
    Joss

    The ghost of Clemenceau. Does Germany sell the most passenger diesel?

  • avatar
    claytori

    Are they sure those headlights are big enough?

  • avatar
    spw

    What needs to be said in the article is that France, as many other European countries, has much lower taxes on diesel than on petrol fuel. What they are planning to do eventually is to even out the taxes, and then low sulphur diesel is actually going to be 10% more expensive than petrol in France.

  • avatar
    Gedrven

    The credit towards exchanging a diesel for an electric is a step in the wrong direction, IMO. Instead of working on the NOx problem with safe and proven technology (urea injection), they’re increasing reliance on the electrical grid, which in France is mostly nuclear. As far as pollution goes, I’d rather live in Los Angeles than Fukushima.

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