France Wants to Phase Out Diesel Fuel for Passenger Vehicles
If you’re compiling a list of ways America is different from France, we’ve got one more addition: The French government wants to limit (and perhaps ban) the use of diesel fuel in passenger vehicles due to pollution concerns.
According to an article in Reuters, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the nation’s over-reliance on diesel fuel in the past was a mistake he wants to correct. Valls said that 2015 budget measures would attempt to reduce the tax advantage of diesel versus gasoline to try and encourage consumers to choose other vehicles. Additionally, France’s Energy Minister Segolene Royal has said that people swapping older diesels for electric vehicles could be entitled to a tax credit of up to 10,000 Euros (around $13,500 at current exchange rates).
Around 80 percent of France’s motorists drive diesels. Unlike in America, where oil-burners are mostly synonymous with fullsize trucks, Europeans have long embraced diesel as a reasonable engine choice in compact, midsize, and even luxury cars, due to their superior fuel economy over comparable gasoline-powered options. However, on the Continent, not many diesel vehicles use diesel exhaust fluid as a means of reducing emissions, so engines for European markets may not be as clean burning as they are elsewhere, particularly in older applications.
That could be the reasoning behind Valls’ remarks about diesel being a past mistake for the French, and plans to implement higher taxes on diesel fuel and offer rebates on diesel trade-ins may not be an attack on the energy source as a whole. Rather, Valls could be simply trying to get fewer “dirty” diesels on the road, given their inferior particulate and nitrogen oxide emissions.
Even so, Valls’ comments seem distinctly anti-diesel, so we suppose time will tell what his intentions are for the fuel. In the meantime, Reuters says the nation will be ranking specific vehicles for pollution, giving local officials the power to limit city access for the worst offenders.
We’re absolutely confident that any attempt to limit the sale of diesel vehicles in the U.S. would be met with severe pushback, and frankly, we’re a little surprised to see such a drastic change in attitude from French officials. Given diesel’s inherent efficiency and advances in modern catalyst and filtering technology, we’d think that governments would welcome new diesel with open arms. Even the staunchest of gasoline proponents have to concede that diesel has become a compelling option for many people.
To our overseas friends who love the characteristics of unrefined crude, we wish you the best of luck.