France does not take its air pollution issues lightly, so the ongoing Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal has diesels in its sights. Even if diesel vehicles are made compliant, the government is not ruling out a sales ban if they’re not convinced they have all the details.
The city of Paris has terrible air pollution that has resulted in all sorts of bans on what and when you can drive in the city. In order to reduce smog when pollution levels get too high, they have gone so far as to ban certain plate numbers from entering the city for a day.
These bans also came with a speed limit of 12 mph, a minimum capacity of three people per vehicle, and free public transportation for anyone unlucky enough to have the wrong plate number. Extra police officers ready to levy fines were on hand to enforce the bans.
In a more permanent move, Paris banned all cars made before 1997 and motorcycles made before 2000. The ban went into effect on July 1 and applies only on weekdays, so you’re free to pollute the heck out of the city on weekends. The hope is that removing the oldest vehicles with the worst emissions from Paris roads will improve air quality.
This is why it’s not surprising that Volkswagen’s diesel vehicles are coming under extra scrutiny in France. There are currently criminal investigations underway into both Renault and Volkswagen and the country’s Environment Minster, Segolene Royal, said they’re waiting for those results before they decide on possible bans of future vehicles.
The outlook for diesel Volkswagens is getting bleak. The company said last week that it is dropping diesels from the United States entirely and will instead focus on electrics and SUVs. It was originally thought that diesels would make a return to the market once the whole emissions scandal was sorted out, but anyone hoping to buy a new diesel VW in the US is now out of luck.
Several years before news of the Volkswagen cheat, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that diesel vehicles were a mistake. They’ve since been gradually introducing legislation designed to make them unattractive to buyers. This includes limits on where they can be driven, like what they’ve done in Paris, and taxes that will make them too expensive for many potential buyers.
The Volkswagen emissions scandal gives France good reason to disallow future diesel sales from the company, but even without the scandal, diesels are on the outs in France.