Diesel-engined vehicles could be gradually phased out in France as the country seeks to improve its average CO2 emissions and reduce pollution in its cities.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced a new car identification system which will be used from next year to keep track of the dirtiest vehicles in the country. Local authorities could then use the data to limit access for diesel-powered cars and vans.
Announcing the new system, Valls called the French people's favour of diesel-powered cars "a mistake", saying: "We will progressively undo that, intelligently and pragmatically." It is thought that around 80 per-cent of French motorists drive diesel-powered vehicles.
As well as bringing in new measures to lower the tax advantage on diesel cars, the government will also be increasing the so-called TICPE excise tax on diesel by two per cent, bringing in an extra €807 million.
France's measures are yet another sign that the dominance of diesel in Europe could be about to end. Experts have already warned that a combination of stringent EU emissions legislation, rises in diesel fuel prices and increasingly efficient petrol engines could lead to a decline in diesel-engined vehicles.
Europe has historically been the largest consumer of diesel-powered cars, with some 55 per cent of vehicles running diesel engines.
Such measures could also be repeated in the UK, with plans for a new Ultra Low Emissions Zone in the capital gathering pace. The zone could be introduced in central London from 2020, and would likely heavily tax those using diesel-powered vehicles not meeting the latest EU emissions standards.
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