Car Industry

France wants to eliminate gas, diesel vehicle sales by 2040

Of course, wanting to and actually doing it are two different things.

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The allure of electric vehicles may cause some owners to switch over to tailpipe-emission-free driving, but France is seriously considering forcing hands, instead.

France wants to eliminate gas and diesel vehicle sales by 2040, in the hopes of becoming carbon neutral in 2050, said Ecology Minister Nicolas Hulot on Thursday. It's part of a series of 23 different policy proposals aimed at combating climate change.

Traffic in Paris can get pretty gnarly, and with nearly every car spewing emissions into the air, you can see why combatting pollution is a high priority.

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While these policy proposals are sure to give climate-change wonks plenty to tweet about, they remain short on details. For example, Hulot didn't lay out whether France would actually ban the sale of gas and diesel vehicles, or if a ban like that is even feasible. There's also the matter of hybrids and extended-range electrics, which still rely on gasoline engines and could therefore be subject to this ban, were it to be implemented.

2040 seems like a long ways away, and it will need to be that far over the horizon for the French to adapt. Right now, according to Reuters, diesel and gas cars comprise about 95 percent of France's new-car market, with EVs comprising just 1.2 percent.

Hulot, when discussing these measures, cited Volvo's recent decision to electrify its new-car fleet by 2019. There's just one problem with that -- Volvo is talking about electrification, which does not mean removing the gas engine. In fact, a great deal of its future vehicles will likely pack 48-volt mild hybrid or plug-in hybrid powertrains, both of which still require gas engines. Volvo's pre-2019 legacy models will continue to burn good ol' hydrocarbons, too.

The plan itself is honorable -- after all, if we can reduce carbon-dioxide tailpipe emissions, we probably should. But there are so many specifics left out of the conversation that I can't help but wonder how it would all pan out, if it even can.