Paris, by Flickr user Alexandre Dulaunoy (Used under CC License)
Diesel has long been the fuel of choice for European drivers wishing to reduce their motoring costs.
However, recent concerns over the emissions of older diesel vehicles has led to several countries drawing up plans to help remove them from the roads.
France has always been strongly pro-diesel, but is now considering a 10,000 Euro incentive ($13,200 at current exchange rates) to encourage diesel owners to go electric instead.
The typical diesel vehicle sold today is fuel-efficient, powerful for its size, and surprisingly refined. Importantly, low fuel consumption also means low CO2 emissions, which much of Europe's drivers are taxed on.
But Europe's diesel vehicles have led to dangerously high particulate emissions in some cities, and countries are quickly back-tracking on their support for diesel cars.
In London, where a CO2-based 'congestion charge' has seen tens of thousands of drivers switch to small diesel vehicles, the city is now considering an extra £10 ($16.50) fee for those driving into the city center in older diesel models--in addition to the exisiting £12 ($20) charge.
France's approach is to incentivize the purchase of electric vehicles, rather than penalize existing diesel owners.
Marie-Ségolène Royal, France’s minister for ecology, sustainable development and energy, submitted the incentive bill to French parliament, reports International Business Times.
French electric car buyers are already eligible for a 6,300 Euro credit ($8,400) for going electric--so those trading from diesels could save almost $22,000 from the cost of a new electric vehicle. That's one of the highest figures anywhere in the world.
If the bill is passed, and French buyers bite, it could raise France from being the world's fifth-biggest electric car market--per overall vehicles sold--to rival Norway and the Netherlands where electric vehicles make up over 5 percent of the market.
It should also help raise France out of the electric car doldrums. In the first half of 2014, electric car sales dropped by 12 percent--and figures were hardly stellar to begin with.
In contrast, EV sales in Norway are going gangbusters--justification for the country's incentives, which are some of the best in the world for electric car buyers.
The real benefit though isn't just raising electric vehicle sales, but finally convincing drivers to switch from their old, polluting diesels to something much, much cleaner.