Electric-car interest in France spikes due to gas shortage


Paris, by Flickr user Alexandre Dulaunoy (Used under CC License)

Paris, by Flickr user Alexandre Dulaunoy (Used under CC License)

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When it comes to spurring electric-car sales, it seems a gas shortage is pretty helpful.

In France, strikes have brought the oil industry to a standstill, leading to a shortage of fossil fuels and lines at pumps.

That's bad news for drivers of gasoline and diesel cars, but good news for carmakers that sell plug-in models.

DON'T MISS: In Paris, cars compete with other transit modes (and often lose)

Manufacturers are taking advantage of the gas shortage with marketing campaigns, and are already seeing increased interest in their electric cars, reports CNN.

Renault launched a new ad campaign this week for its Zoe electric car, featuring social media posts and newspaper advertisements.

"In France, we don't have any more petrol but we do have Zoe," read one tweet.

2016 Renault Zoe electric car

2016 Renault Zoe electric car

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The campaign led to a 50-percent increase in calls from consumers for information about the Zoe, Renault said.

The Zoe was the best-selling electric car in Europe in 2015, but this year it's faced stiffer competition from the Nissan Leaf, made by Renault's Japanese alliance partner.

Electric-car owners also reportedly began posting carpool offers online, hoping to aid drivers without access to fuel.

MORE: 50,000th Renault Zoe electric car delivered (after 200,000 Nissan Leafs)

Citroën posted a photo on Twitter showing electric cars representing the red, white, and blue of the French flag.

"Fed up with queuing? Here's a solution," read the caption.

Strikes at oil refineries that are affecting fuel production were called last week in response to new labor laws that reportedly make it easier for employers to fire workers, and reduce overtime pay.

Citroën electric-car advertisement posted on Twitter, May 2016

Citroën electric-car advertisement posted on Twitter, May 2016

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Workers in the nuclear-power industry and public transportation are also striking to protest the new laws.

The legislation was enacted earlier this month in a move that bypassed the French parliament; officials say the changes will make France a more attractive place for businesses, and boost economic growth.

Labor unions are demanding the withdrawal of the new rules, and are threatening further strikes.

While a gas shortage may have boosted interested in electric cars, it helps that France is already a fairly strong market for them.

Renault Kangoo Express Z.E. electric van

Renault Kangoo Express Z.E. electric van

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The government offers generous purchase incentives for new electric cars, including bonuses for consumers who send old diesel cars to scrap when they buy new plug-ins.

In 2015, France was Europe's second-largest market for electric cars, behind the U.K., according to data from LMC Automotive.

The roughly 65,000 electric cars and plug-in hybrids sold in France last year represented just over 3 percent of the total sold in all of Europe.

[hat tip: Brian Henderson]

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