what you need to know before buying an electric vehicle

Since July 1, 2021, the rules concerning the ecological bonus have changed. If the latter is still relevant today, all the indicators indicate that in a few years, it should be reviewed many times, until it no longer even concerns electric cars.

Renault Zoe

Renault Zoe

If you have already considered or even taken the plunge regarding the purchase of a new car, your dealer has probably already told you about the ecological bonus or penalty. If your purchase is recent and does not concern an electric car, he has certainly told you about the penalty instead. The ecological bonus-malus system is a kind of tax method encouraging customers to move towards the purchase of a low-emission vehicle in return for a financial consideration. Conversely, if the vehicle purchased is considered too polluting, it will be taxed by a sum determined according to its polluting emissions, measured via the certification cycle in force.

The ecological bonus-malus system is one of the first strong measures taken by the Grenelle de l’Environnement in October 2007. It is in line with the objectives of the European Union, which is to achieve a fleet of vehicles with average 130 g/km of CO2 and 95 g/km of CO2 in 2020. As you are aware, this bonus-malus system has greatly evolved since its enthronement. If, at the start, it could concern thermal and hybrid cars, today, this is no longer the case since it only concerns electric cars. Why ? For the simple and good reason that since January 1, 2020, the eligibility conditions for the ecological bonus can only concern electric cars. To qualify, you must meet the following conditions:

  • have a CO2 emissions rate of no more than 20 g/km;
  • be purchased (or leased with an option to purchase or for a period of at least two years);
  • be a new vehicle;
  • be registered in France in a definitive series;
  • not be sold within 6 months of purchase or before having traveled at least 6,000 kilometres.

With the advent of the electric car and a leveling up of the prices of electric cars, especially high-end ones, the government had to review certain points, in particular the amount of the bonus based on the price of the new vehicle, all taxes included. Thereby, since January 1, 2020, not all electric cars are eligible for the ecological bonus. However, they are not eligible for the ecological penalty, which remains only valid for internal combustion cars that emit more than 110 g/km of CO.2.

What amounts of aid are available?

Here is, in detail, the level of aid since July 1, 2021

  • bonus of €6,000 for households buying a vehicle for less than 45,000 euros including tax (until December 31, 2021);
  • bonus of €2,000 for households buying a vehicle whose price is between 45,000 euros and 60,000 euros including tax (until December 31, 2021);
  • bonus of 4 000 euros for legal entities purchasing a vehicle for less than 45,000 euros;
  • up to a bonus of €1,000 for households buying a plug-in hybrid vehicle costing less than 50,000 euros and with a range of more than 50 km;
  • no bonus for vehicles over 60,000 euros, with the exception of light commercial vehicles and hydrogen vehicles which will be entitled to a bonus of €2,000.

As you will have understood, if you buy an Audi e-tron or a Mercedes EQC today, two high-end 100% electric SUVs whose base price is around 80,000 euros, you will not be eligible for the ecological bonus. The same goes for some cars that are between two waters, like the Tesla Model 3 Performance for example, with some options, which escapes the ecological bonus.

With the gradual arrival of electric cars within the ranges of manufacturers, but also with the democratization of technology and therefore the gradual reduction in prices, over the next few years, the ecological bonus will probably no longer exist. Its decline has already begun and will continue in 2021 with ever more restrictive conditions (see the last chapter of this dossier).

Cars are not the only ones concerned since so are two- or three-wheeled vehicles. Electric models can benefit from 900 euros in aid, as can the purchase bonuses for an electric bike issued by the State, certain regions, departments and cities.

Other aid also exists in addition to the ecological bonus, such as the conversion bonus which intervenes in the event of the scrapping of an old diesel car owned for at least one year and put into circulation before January 1, 2001 (2006 for non-taxable income) or a petrol vehicle dating from before 1997. This is a supplement to the ecological bonus and allows additional aid of up to 5,000 euros for a non-taxable household (2,500 euros otherwise).

How can I claim my eco bonus?

In the majority of cases, you will have absolutely nothing to do since the bonus will be deducted directly from the price including VAT of the car. The concessionaire thus advances the ecological bonus thanks to an agreement established with the Services and Payment Agency (ASP) which is responsible for studying the file. If your dealer does not or refuses to do so, look elsewhere since most do. If you really have no choice, you will have to complete the payment request form with the ASP yourself. And watch out, it must be sent within six months from the date of invoicing of the new vehicle, or, in the case of a lease, the date of the first installment payment.

Is a car eligible for financial assistance?

The used electric car is entitled to an ecological bonus of 1000 euros, as formalized by the Minister Delegate for Transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, in mid-October 2020. They are also affected by the conversion bonus.

How does the ecological bonus work in a rental contract (LOA, LLD)?

There too, you won’t have to do anything since the ecological bonus will be directly deducted from the price including VAT of the car and the rents will therefore be correlated to the price of the new vehicle, bonus included. Some manufacturers also communicate on attractive rents for electric cars by offering to include the bonus directly in the first contribution. This also makes it possible to reduce the monthly payments quite significantly.

Are all electric cars affected?

As stated above, since January 1, 2020, not all electric cars are affected. Only those below 45,000 euros are eligible for the maximum bonus of 6,000 euros (until December 31, 2021). Between 45,000 and 60,000 euros, the bonus is reduced to 3,000 euros (until December 31, 2021) and it is even completely eliminated when the car exceeds the sum of 60,000 euros.

For companies it is a little different since the maximum bonus is 3,000 euros for a car whose price is less than 60,000 euros. Beyond that, as for individuals, there is no longer any ecological bonus.

Are hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars affected?

Plug-in hybrids are concerned provided they meet certain criteria already mentioned above: cost less than 50,000 euros, offer more than 50 kilometers of autonomy and emit a CO2 rate between 21 and 50 g/km. For this type of vehicle, the ecological bonus amounts to 2000 euros until June 30, 2021, then will drop to 1000 euros from July 1, 2021. On January 1, 2022, it will simply no longer exist.

What future for the ecological bonus in France?

In the short term, the ecological bonus should last a few more years even if it is already beginning to decline. It will continue to decline as time goes on. during the year 2021 and 2022. For vehicles below 45,000 euros, the bonus will drop from 7,000 to 6,000 euros on July 1, 2021, from 5,000 to 4,000 euros for legal entities and from 3,000 to 2,000 euros for cars oscillating between 30,000 and 45,000 euros.

As of January 1, 2022, all the above-mentioned aids will decrease by an additional 1000 euros. Will the bonus disappear completely? Certainly in the medium term, when the electric automobile advocated by the legislator will have invaded the market and the purchase of a new, or even second-hand, thermal car will no doubt become impossible.

In the long term, nothing prevents a government from putting in place an ecological bonus system, especially if a new technology, said to be even more respectful of the environment, comes to interfere in the automotive sector.

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