Jeff Steiner's Americans in France.
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DrivingDiesel vs Gasoline

Here's a short primer on how to decide between buying a diesel or gasoline car in France. This can also helpful for deciding what type of car to rent.

In France 70%+ of cars run on diesel (gazole). Why is this? In short the tax on diesel is less than on gasoline (essence). In the price of a liter of diesel about 55% goes to taxes. In gasoline it's about 65%. It's largely this difference in taxes that explains why the French drive diesel powered cars. The specific taxes is the TIPP - Taxe Intérieure de consommation sur les Produits Pétroliers. The TIPP for diesel is €.42 per liter and for gasoline it's €.59 per liter.

If you're thinking of buying a car in France, it looks like it's a no-brainer to buy a diesel car. Not quite, as diesel cars, especially used diesel cars cost about 20% more than those that use gasoline. It really comes down to how much you drive. As a rule of thumb the diesel vs gasoline cut off is: +25,000 km driving per year you buy diesel and -15,000km per year you buy gas. In between it could be a wash or it would depend on how long you plan on having the car and/or what you can resell it for/type/price and so on. If you know how much you drive per year and the liters per 100 km* of the car you want to buy, you can do the math yourself.

Also keep in mind that the TIPP tax difference is in cents and not a percentage. So the higher diesel/gas prices become the lower the percentage difference, making diesel less attractive.
Get an idea of the price of diesel and gasoline in France.

Other info:

  • Because diesel is cheaper than gasoline, cars running on diesel tend to be driven more and therefor need more maintenance
  • Diesel motors are noisier and emit more fine particles into the air

*Fuel efficiency in continental Europe is measured in liters consumed per 100 km and not mpg.

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