Give drivers €1,000 to scrap polluting cars - Peugeot chief

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The Independent Online

Peugeot Citroën, Europe's second-biggest car maker, is promoting a Europe-wide plan to take older, more polluting cars off the roads by giving their owners a €1,000 (£665) incentive to scrap them.

Peugeot Citroën, Europe's second-biggest car maker, is promoting a Europe-wide plan to take older, more polluting cars off the roads by giving their owners a €1,000 (£665) incentive to scrap them.

The money, which would be paid by governments, could be used to buy a brand new car or a newer second hand one but the owners, if they wish, could choose to pocket the cash instead.

Jean-Martin Folz, the chief executive of the French car manufacturer, said it would be a much more cost-effective way of cutting pollution from cars than offering incentives to buy new energy efficient vehicles such as Toyota's Prius hybrid model which has both a petrol engine and an electric one.

M. Folz insisted that the primary purpose of the scheme would be to tackle carbon dioxide emissions from motor vehicles and not to help the industry sell more cars. A controversial French scheme introduced in the late 1990s which entitled new-car buyers to a large discount provided they traded in an older car was widely condemned as a failure.

"The taxpayers' euros are best invested in eliminating older, more polluting cars and this should be our top priority," M. Folz said. "I have been trying to interest Brussels in this. Everyone seems to think it is a good idea but nobody can agree to do it."

There are an estimated 190 to195 million cars on Europe's roads, of which up to 40 million do not meet the most basic emissions standards and lack equipment such as catalytic converters. In Britain, nearly 5 million of the 29 million cars on the road are older than 12 years and so pre-date the first voluntary emissions standards introduced across the industry.

M. Folz said it was more important to tackle this legacy of heavily polluting vehicles first before designing cars and engines with much lower emissions.

A new, voluntary agreement limiting emissions from new cars to 140 grams of CO2 per kilometre is about to be adopted by Europe's car makers. But M. Folz said that last year Peugeot produced one third of the cars sold in Europe emitting less than 120 grams of CO2 per kilometre.

The French car maker is developing a number of environmentally-friendly initiatives such as the "stop-and-start system" which stops the car when it is stationary in traffic jams or at traffic lights and then starts it again automatically when the driver wants to move forward. The technology, which can cut fuel consumption by up to 15 per cent in heavy traffic, was introduced last year on the Citroën C3. Peugeot has also built three demonstration vehicles using fuel cell technology which power the car using electricity generated on board from hydrogen and produce no pollutants or CO2 emissions.

But M. Folz ruled out entering the petrol-hybrid market on the grounds that the same 20 to 25 per cent reduction in emissions could be achieved with diesel engines at a fraction of the cost. Peugeot is, however, working on a diesel hybrid in partnership with the UK engineering group Ricardo. The engine, which is some years away from commercial production, would add a few thousand euros to the cost of a car, M. Folz said.

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