Trading Old Cars for Electric Bikes: France Proposes Handsome Financial Incentives

The French government is planning to give citizens who want to trade in their old cars a $3,000 grant (€2,500) towards the purchase of an electric bike.

The notion has been approved by lawmakers at the National Assembly in a preliminary vote and is part of a more ambitious round of emissions cuts planned for 2040, at which point the French government hopes to have reduced them 40% compared with 1990 levels.

The French Federation of Bicycle Users (FUB) told Reuters that, if adopted, France will become the first country to offer such a trade—all in an effort to reduce the number of cars on the road, especially the ones that produce more emissions.

Electric bikes add power to each rotation of the gears, propelling the cyclist further with less effort than a traditional one, but a good e-bike can also achieve speeds of 20 mph without so much as a single pedal turn simply by using the throttle, making them ideal for city commutes.

The decision by France was hailed by green lobbying and cycling groups, who see bikes as a major solution to combat vehicle emissions. Modern EU and UK emissions standards on cars, especially those registered in major cities, are extremely strict, meaning older models carry an emissions burden much larger than their share of the total percentage of vehicles on the road.

Cycling Industries Europe, a trade association, welcomed the move, with their chief executive saying: “We are seeing a welcome increase in stand-alone incentives for bicycle purchases, but the French Assembly has made it clear—e-bikes and cargo bikes are to be supported as vehicle replacements.

“Every government needs to recognize that it is the cycling industries of Europe that are leading the world in the change to e-mobility.”