in Reims, the electric car still has a long way to go before it wins

As the Paris Motor Show opened at the beginning of the week, where new electric models were shown, here is an inventory of the situation of electric cars in Reims and the region. It still has a long way to go to win against thermal models.

The Mondial de l’Auto opened its doors on Monday 17 October at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris. With the slogan “Revolution underway“, the 2022 edition testifies to the major transformation of the automotive sector.

Because in 2035 it will no longer be possible to sell new thermal vehicles in Europe. A radical measure that forces manufacturers to adapt. While fuel shortages have complicated the lives of many French people in recent days, manufacturers are stepping up their announcements.

The Stellantis group (ex-PSA), for example, will produce “at short notice” 12 electric vehicles in France, compared to six at the moment, its general manager Carlos Tavares announced on Monday on the first day of the show. Some models will be assembled in Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin). But on the private side, the transition to electricity will take time.

In Greater Reims, the car remains important for households. 78.5 % of them own at least one vehicle according to INSEE data from 2019. 29.6% of households even have two or more vehicles.

And diesel and petrol cars are still very much in the majority. Of the 3.3 million cars registered in the Grand Est region in 2021, there were 1.9 million diesel and 1.3 million petrol. There are therefore only crumbs left for the other types of motorization. The Ministry of Ecological Transition is thus setting up only 18,900 electric or hydrogen cars in 2021 in the region.

However, it should be noted that this figure has almost doubled in one year. There were only 10,400 in 2020. A real dynamic therefore appears to be well under way. And the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, who inaugurated the Mondial de l’Auto, made several announcements aimed at further stimulating demand.

The purchase premium is increased, for example, from 6,000 to 7,000 euros for half of the households. Something that helps them switch to electric. The president also recalled his promise to establish a lease for 100 euros per month to give the most modest the opportunity to equip themselves. The first deliveries may take place in 2024.

But who says that electric cars say that it is necessary to have enough charging stations to fill the batteries. And France is currently behind the goals it has set itself.

While the head of state counted on 100 000 terminals on public roads by the end of 2021, the country had only 50,000 at that date according to an estimate made by Enedis, the manager of the electricity network. The president has set a new schedule for this week: 100 000 public terminals in the first half of 2023 and 400 000 in 2030.

The Grand Est region is one of the regions least well equipped with charging stations accessible to the public. According to the latest data provided by Enedis, there were 82 points out of 100 000 inhabitants in our region, much less than in Occitanie for example, where this figure rises to 128.

Low-emission zones (ZFE) must be created by 2025 in all French urban areas with more than 150 000 inhabitants. In these sectors, certain types of vehicles will eventually no longer have the right to circulate. In Champagne-Ardenne, there is only one low-emission zone in Reims, with an area covering the hypercentre and the city junction.

Although the car is not always the most efficient form of transport in the city, electric models are emerging as an asset to show their credentials at the entrance to ZFEs.

In Reims, the measure following the ban on unclassified vehicles and Crit’air 5 was extended in September 2022 to Crit’air 4. A year later, it is the turn of Crit’air 3 to no longer be able to circulate in the area. Vehicles classified Crit’air 2, 1 or E will still have the right to drive in the low emission zone.

“The very principle of the low-emission zone is to exclude the most polluting vehicles from the most polluted zone”, recalled in September on our antenna Laure Miller, renaissance assistant to the mayor of Reims in charge of ecology, nature in the city and public facilities.

Is there already a noticeable effect of ZFE on automotive equipment in Reims? In any case, we see that the least polluting vehicles, classified Crit’air E, 1 or 2, are more in Grand Reims than in the rest of the Grand Est region or even at national level.

According to figures from 2021, the latest available, 66.3 % of cars in Grand Reims are in the top three categories of Crit’air stickers. In Grand Est, this is only the case for 62.8 % cars. And 61.9 % at national level.

And the transition is underway. As you can see in the animated graph below, the most polluting vehicles in the Grand Est region have gradually given way to models that emit less fine particles and nitrogen dioxide.

Crit’air 1 vehicles, almost non-existent in Grand Est entries in 2011, are now the third most frequent category. And they are on course to overtake the Crit’air 3, whose numbers have shrunk by 370,000 cars in ten years in the region.

President Emmanuel Macron stated in an interview with Les Echos before the start of the Paris Motor Show that 150 million euros from “Green Fund” would be “arrows” to Low Emission Zones (ZFE), to accompany these new bans on the circulation of older vehicles.

“What is unbearable for our countrymen is when they have the feeling that the city is forbidden to them”, said Emmanuel Macron. “We need to support households with the most polluting vehicles to help them change their vehicles and access the city center in partnership with local authorities and employers”.

Local authorities already support individuals and professionals who need to change vehicles. In Greater Reims, the most modest households affected by the ZFE can benefit from a subsidy of 3,000 euros to scrap a polluting vehicle and replace it with a model classified Crit’air E, 1 or 2.

The Grand Est region has also set up a support system to go electric. These are people living in rural areas, as well as professionals based in rural areas or in a low-emission zone.

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