Electric bikes to replace polluting cars after France introduces scrappage scheme

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French lawmakers have approved a new measure that would provide owners of old, polluting cars with a grant for the purchase of electric bicycles should they choose to scrap their vehicle.

On 9 April 2021, lawmakers in the French National Assembly (FNA) voted in favour of introducing a new measure to include both electric and cargo bicycles in a national car scrappage scheme.

Following lobbying by the Fédération Française des Usagers De La Bicyclette (FUB) and other actors, the FNA passed an amendment to a draft climate bill that aims to reduce greenhouse emissions by 40% in 2030 from 1990 levels.

While details of the scheme have yet to be specified, according to the European Cyclists’ Federation it is likely that a purchase premium of up to €2,500 for electric bicycles and cargo bikes will be granted to car owners when a polluting vehicle is scrapped.

French minister of the ecological transition Barbara Pompili called adoption of the amendment a “cultural turning point”, and emphasised the significance of providing financial aid for the acquisition of e-bikes in particular.

Currently, in France, an estimated one in every five bicycles sold is either electric or electric assisted.

Olivier Schneider, president of FUB, said: “We are in a country with a strong automobile industry. Often the purpose of bonuses is to get rid of your old car and buy a new one.

“But, for the first time, it is recognised that the solution is not to make cars greener, but simply to reduce their number.”

France has already had positive experiences with similar measures in the past. In 2017, a general purchase subsidy for electric bikes almost doubled sales numbers, acting as an important catalyst for market uptake.

Furthermore, a survey among recipients of the subsidy showed that 61% of the trips made by e-bike replaced trips with conventionally fuelled vehicles.

And in 2020, in the framework of mobility measures related to the Covid-19 pandemic, the French government introduced a €50 subsidy for bike repair.

The scheme was prolonged after few months following high demand, and enabled more than two million people to receive a sizeable reduction on their bike repair bill.-

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