Paris pledges to ban petrol cars by 2030, and diesel even sooner

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Front Page - By Am­brose Evans-Pritchard

THE city of Paris is to ban all petrol-pow­ered ve­hi­cles by 2030 and pro­hibit diesel cars as soon as 2024, send­ing fresh shock waves through Europe’s stunned mo­tor in­dus­try.

The ex­tremely tight timetable pre-empts France’s drive to end sales of the in­ter­nal com­bus­tion engine by 2040, and shows just how quickly the elec­tric rev­o­lu­tion is shak­ing up the old or­der. It un­der­scores the mount­ing busi­ness risk fac­ing those car pro­duc­ers still bet­ting that petrol and diesel mod­els are here to stay.

“It is a cred­i­ble and sus­tain­able tra­jec­tory,” said Christophe Na­j­dovski, the Green deputy mayor of Paris. “We’re plan­ning to press ahead with the end of fos­sil-based ve­hi­cles be­cause quite sim­ply we’re run­ning out of time. The cli­mate can­not wait.”

Mr Na­j­dovski said a 12-year tran­si­tion is am­ple time for the car in­dus­try to ad­just. “We are try­ing to get ahead of the process. It is per­fectly doable,” he said.

Be­hind the French push is a hard-headed cal­cu­la­tion by pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron that his coun­try has a chance of seiz­ing Euro­pean lead­er­ship in a lu­cra­tive new in­dus­try, vault­ing ahead of Ger­man pro­duc­ers caught off guard by the speed of change.

The Re­nault-Nis­san Al­liance is al­ready the world

leader with sales of 460,000 elec­tric ve­hi­cles, led by the Nis­san Leaf – man­u­fac­tured, as it hap­pens, in Sunderland. “The ve­hi­cle of the fu­ture will be an elec­tric, con­nected, au­ton­o­mous car,” says Car­los Ghosn, the Al­liance’s chief ex­ec­u­tive.

Ian Fletcher, an ex­pert on the Euro­pean car in­dus­try at IHS Markit, said one must read the le­gal fine-print of the Paris ban be­fore judg­ing the real im­pli­ca­tions. “I am al­ways wary when peo­ple talk about elec­tri­fi­ca­tion be­cause it can mean so many things. But this is a sig­nif­i­cant step,” he said.

Mr Fletcher said the French govern­ment was sys­tem­at­i­cally pur­su­ing an in­dus­trial strat­egy in favour of elec­tric ve­hi­cles: back­ing re­search; re­train­ing work­ers; and help­ing to re­tool com­po­nent sup­pli­ers. “The Ger­mans have been late to the party. The French think they can es­tab­lish lead­er­ship in the mar­ket. The Re­nault-Nis­san Al­liance is very well-placed,” he said.

Europe is rac­ing to keep up with China, which is push­ing a dras­tic plan of elec­tri­fi­ca­tion and threat­ens to dom­i­nate the new tech­nol­ogy.

China is al­ready the world’s big­gest mar­ket for elec­tric ve­hi­cles, and its lead is grow­ing. The tar­get is to pro­duce 7m elec­tric and hy­brid ve­hi­cles a year by 2015, cap­i­tal­is­ing on China’s edge in lithium bat­tery out­put – an area ne­glected by the Euro­peans. As of 2019, each com­pany sell­ing cars in China must meet a zero-emis­sion quota of 10pc, ris­ing to 12pc in 2020. Those that can­not do so will face fines or have to buy “EV cred­its” from ri­vals – likely to be Chi­nese pro­duc­ers.

The in­dus­try min­istry is draft­ing plans for a pro­hi­bi­tion of petrol and diesel ve­hi­cles by 2040, an omi­nous de­vel­op­ment for OPEC oil pro­duc­ers count­ing on Asia to boost long-term crude de­mand. The Chi­nese know they can­not match the so­phis­ti­cated com­bus­tion en­gines of Western car­mak­ers in the near fu­ture, but they can out­flank them by shift­ing to an elec­tric driv­e­train and shap­ing the mar­ket by reg­u­la­tory fiat.

China’s strate­gic drive will be­come an in­creas­ing threat as the cost of elec­tric ve­hi­cles falls to petrol par­ity by the early 2020s, elim­i­nat­ing the need for sub­sidy. The risk for the tra­di­tional car­mak­ers is that China could do to them what it has al­ready done to Ger­man so­lar com­pa­nies: wipe them out.

The French are at­tempt­ing to head off this dan­ger. The coun­try is al­ready Europe’s big­gest mar­ket for elec­tric ve­hi­cles, thanks to sub­si­dies of up to €6,000, or €10,000 where the switch re­places a diesel model that is over 10 years old. But Ger­man pro­duc­ers are scram­bling to make up lost ground and will prove for­mi­da­ble com­peti­tors.

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