The French government has suspended an electric car leasing scheme after only six weeks following a surge in demand that more than doubled the number of vehicles required.
Officials said the scheme, launched in December to help low-income households and cut carbon emissions, would be relaunched next year.
Originally, 25,000 European-built electric cars were to be offered to lease from €100 (£85) a month, but this was doubled after massive demand. The government said it had received more than 90,000 applications by the end of January.
“It’s a real success story and symbolic of French environmental policy. It is good for the wallet and good for the planet,” an adviser to President Emmanuel Macron said.
Motorists who balked at the cost of buying an electric car – which are typically more expensive than a petrol or diesel vehicle – were offered a means-tested leasing scheme at a cost of €100-€150 a month for a vehicle worth €47,000 or under.
Applicants had to be over 18, live in France, live at least 15km (9 miles) from their place of work and drive more than 8,000km a year as part of their professional activity and have a household taxable income of less than €15,400 a person. The three-year leasing contract can be renewed once with the option to buy the vehicle, which must have been manufactured in France or elsewhere in Europe. The government is subsidising each vehicle up to a maximum of €13,000.
Less than six weeks after it was launched, the scheme that was part of Macron’s 2022 re-election manifesto had been a victim of its own success and overtaken its initial objective, the Élysée Palace said.
The industry and energy minister, Roland Lescure, suggested the popular offer had been constrained by the number of electric vehicles being made in France and urged the country’s carmakers to speed up production.
“Today, there is a great demand and we don’t yet have enough products made in France. That means French constructors need to step up the pace or commit to doing so,” Lescure told France 3.
“What’s fantastic about this offer is that at the same time you give people who aren’t necessarily very well off access to an inexpensive electric vehicle and what’s more you do so by producing more French vehicles. We have to do both.”
“It [the scheme] is a victim of its success. It all happened quicker than we thought. We’ll perhaps slow down a bit to give the French manufacturers some time and then, accelerate, accelerate, accelerate.” He added that details of the 2025 scheme would be published at the end of this year.
A spokesperson for Christophe Béchu, the minister for ecological transition, said: “A new wave of orders will be put in place for 2025 because the government wants to increase the offer.” However, they said it was too early to decide whether the conditions would be more open.