France is the fourth ranking country in Western Europe by number of NGVs, with a total of more than 12,000 units.
The development of NGVs in France has been pushed in different ways by the signing of official agreements between industry and the government. The first agreement signed in 1994 planned to have 350 CNG buses in service by the end of 1999. The second agreement signed in 1999 achieved significant success in terms of having put the following vehicles into operation: 1,600 urban buses, 300 trucks, mainly for urban cleaning services and 5,500 cars and light-duty vans. All fleet owners refuelled their vehicles using privately installed refilling stations.
The newest protocol signed in July 2005 defined very ambitious targets, in terms of number of vehicles running on NG/biomethane, to be reached by 2010:
- 3,000 CNG urban buses
- 1,200 CNG urban services trucks
- 100,000 CNG cars and light duty vans
In order to reach these targets and particularly the one related to private cars, the protocol was to install 300 public filling stations, instead of the private refuelling stations used by public customers.
From an administrative viewpoint, the ministry for transport was offering ad-hoc help in terms of defining a tax scheme that would push the development of NGVs in France. Their point of view was that this measure was “strictly going in line with the law regarding the quality of the air and the rationale use of energy”. By the end of 2008 France counted a total number in excess of 12,450 NGVs: 9,500 cars and light duty vans, 2,100 urban buses and 850 urban service trucks. There are about 125 CNG filling stations at present, 15 of which are public, whereas the other 110 are privately used for fleets. However, due to further efforts, especially made by the French gas industry, it is expected that the filling stations network will be expanded in the near future.
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