The bonus for clean cars decreases while the penalty for polluting cars increases.

France's minister of industry just announced that the country is going to revamp the bonus and penalty system it applies to new cars.

For those who haven't recently purchased a new car in France and therefore haven't been confronted by this system, here's how it works: each new car is given a rating based on how many grams of CO2 it emits per kilometer. Cars considered as clean-burning qualify for a government-issued bonus, polluting cars get a fine (payable, again, to the government) and there is a neutral zone in between the two.

Bonuses and penalties are factored into the price of a new car. They are independent from France's famous taxable horsepower, better know as CV.

The system aims to push consumers to buy cleaner cars. It also pushes manufacturers to build more efficient cars because if they don't, their models will be penalized and could face a disadvantage compared to the competition.

In the revamped system, the bonus is lowered and only applies to cars that emit 104 grams of CO2 per kilometer. The most a car can qualify for is 5,000‚,¨ ($6,800), applicable to cars that emit 50 grams of CO2 or less. The smallest bonus concerns cars that emit 91 to 103 grams per kilometer and is a mere 100‚,¨ ($137).

The neutral zone is from 105 grams per kilometer to 140 grams per kilometer.

Cars that emit more than 140 grams per kilometer are faced with a penalty that ranges anywhere from 200‚,¨ ($275) to 3,600‚,¨ ($5,000). In addition, those that emit more than 190 grams will have to pay an extra annual tax of 160‚,¨ ($220).

The changes to the bonus and penalty system will take effect on January 1st, 2012, which is sure to have a positive effect on December car sales.


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