French company car tax reforms push for greener fleets

January 23, 2017

The French government is currently pursuing a suite of measures to reduce pollution caused by company cars. These include tightening the bonus-malus purchase system – which now penalises many more models, VAT rebates being extended to petrol and also traffic restrictions. Safety is also being bolstered with a new provision to the Highway Code that affects companies.  

Moving into 2017, the bonus-malus purchase system for both private motorists and companies continues to become stricter.  

For the cleanest electric vehicles, those emitting no more than 20g CO2/km, the top level bonus is being reduced to €6000 from €6300 currently. There is also an upper limit of 27% of the purchase price. However, the bonus rises to €10,000 if the buyer scraps a diesel vehicle more than 10 years old.  

For cleaner plug-in hybrids, those with emissions in the range 21-60g CO2/km, the bonus is €1000. It rises to €3500 if the buyer scraps a diesel more than 10 years old.  

Non-rechargeable hybrids with 61-100g CO2/km will no longer get any bonus. They received 750 in 2016.  

On the penalty (malus) side of the scheme, this now begins at 127g CO2/km, down from 131g CO2/km in 2016 – with many more models now finding themselves within the penalty system and facing increasing taxes. The highest level penalty now begins at 191g CO2/km, with a penalty of €10,000 – compared to starting at 201g CO2/km and a penalty of €8,000 in 2016.  

In addition, because the bonus-malus system is calculated only on CO2 emissions, in order to boost lower NOx-emitting petrol cars, from January 1st companies have been able to claim back 10% of the VAT on petrol. This rebate scheme will increase every year until it reaches 80% in 2021. This is designed to counteract what is now seen as a flaw in the bonus-malus system, whereby lower CO2-emitting diesel cars are penalised less, even though they contribute more detrimentally to air pollution through their much higher NOx emissions than petrol.  

Director General of Arval France François-Xavier Castille said: Fuel represents 11.7% of the total cost of ownership of a vehicle.’ He added: ‘VAT only represents a part of this percentage. The stakes are not enormous but this measure will enable the TCO to be improved and will encourage petrol for those vehicles which cover fewer than 20,000 km per year and for the urban and compact segments.’  

In an additional measure, environment minister Ségolène Royal has asked regional plans to be extended to the whole of France by April. The city of Paris has introduced an eco-disc (vignette) system as it becomes ever more hostile to diesel vehicles, whose NOx and particulate emissions contribute to a number of illnesses. From 16 January, Paris was the first municipality to introduce a Restricted Traffic Zone (ZCR) scheme which is now set to be rolled out nationwide. The ZCR scheme’s eco-discs, called Crit’Air vignettes, place passenger cars into categories depending on the emissions regulation they conform to and whether they are petrol or diesel. This system allows for better measures during pollution peaks than the flawed previous system of alternate day driving depending on whether you had an odd or even number plate. Click here for more information.  

Finally, in addition to the green initiatives, a new provision has been added to the French Highway Code, where companies now have to provide the authorities with the identity of drivers in cases of offences detected by a radar or an automated device. If the company refuses, it will have to pay a Class 4 fine of €750. 

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