Starting in August, the government tightened income restrictions for eligibility, which had also been relaxed in the coronavirus aid package.
The French minister of ecological transition, Barbara Pompili, announced the proposed change on her Twitter account on Monday. "From January 1, 2021, the conversion bonus will be reserved for the least polluting vehicles and will no longer concern diesel models," she wrote. "It is a question of the consistency of our policy to fight against pollution air."
That prompted a protest from the industry trade group PFA, which called the rollback "surprising," noting that 52 percent of vehicles benefiting from the conversion in 2019 were diesels.
It also brought a rare criticism from the minister of industry, Agnes Pannier-Runacher, who said that 35,000 jobs in France were tied to diesel engines, and that diesels emit less CO2 than gasoline powerplants.
In 2021, new or used gasoline vehicles will still be eligible for a 1,500 euro conversion bonus, with full-electric and plug-in hybrids with at least 50 km of electric-only range eligible for 2,500 euros.
New EVs will also have a 6,000-euro incentive -- an amount raised to 7,000 euros in the coronavirus package -- but that will be lowered in coming years to 4,000 euros. A 2,000 euro incentive for new plug-in hybrids will be cut to 1,000 euros next year.
The percentage of diesel sales has been falling steadily in France since reaching a high of more than 70 percent in 2012. As recently as 2015 it was 57 percent, but through September of this year, diesels had just a 31 percent market share, according to figures from industry group CCFA.