Why are many European carmakers now planning to build electric vehicles? Because many European cities are widely expected to ban high-emissions vehicles from their city cores over the next decade--perhaps even vehicles with any emissions at all.
Now, Paris may be the first city to experiment with such a policy. Next year, it will begin to test restrictions on vehicles that emit more than a certain amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometer--the measure of a car's contribution to greenhouse gases.
An official within the Parisian mayor's office, Denis Baupin, identified older diesel-engined cars and sport-utility vehicles as specific targets of the emissions limit.
"I'm sorry," Baupin said on RTL Radio, "but having a sport utility vehicle in a city makes no sense." He suggested that Parisian SUV owners replace their sport utilities with vehicles that are "compatible with city life."
Thus far, the specific details of the restrictions--including numeric limits, which types of engines and vehicles would be targeted, the locations and the timing of the bans--are still being debated, as are the penalties for flouting them.
Other French cities planning to test similar restrictions over the next two years include Lyon, Grenoble, and Aix-en-Provence.
London's congestion-charging scheme, which levies a fee of £10 (roughly $15.50) to enter a large area of the central city during weekday business hours, permits zero-emissions vehicles to enter free.
Residents and travelers have responded by buying thousands of electric cars, including the low-speed fiberglass G-Wiz--despite major safety concerns with the vehicle.