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Car and Driver: Paris Is Smoking: Bans 20-Year-Old Cars, but Collector Cars Can Stay

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Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

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If you have a 20-year-old car and you live in the middle of Paris, don’t expect to drive it to work—or anywhere inside Paris’s Périphérique loop road—on weekdays starting on July 1, 2016. As the next round of aggressive anti-pollution measures adopted one year ago by the city of Paris are phased in, passenger cars built before 1997 as well as motorized two-wheelers built before 1999 will be banned from driving in the city from 8 a.m. until 8. p.m. on weekdays (holidays not included). Paris follows the lead of Berlin, which enacted similar measures five years ago, and other European cities, with more expected to follow suit. These measures, spearheaded by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, also include the  creation of certain zones reserved for electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles.

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Drivers wishing to motor around in the city in any car must display a chip or sticker in the windshield of their vehicles that indicate which of six emissions categories it fits into. This in turn allows authorities to know when and where those vehicles are allowed to be driven. Top-tier Class 1 stickers will be doled out for hydrogen- or electric-powered vehicles, whereas cars built before 1997, as well as older large vehicles—including utility vehicles and buses, according to the report—will not be given a sticker at all, and thus will be the first ones to be banned; bans of other classes of vehicles are expected to be phased in during the next few years, with vehicles older than 2011 and all diesel-powered passenger cars expected to be banned by 2020. The bans will be enforced by fines for non-approved passenger cars that will increase over time, starting at 35 euros (about $39 at current exchange rates) this year, rising to 68 euros ($76) from early 2017, according to Le Monde.

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Francois Guillot/GettyImages

The vintage Pug can stay.

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Only an estimated 10 percent of the local vehicle population will be affected, and happily, there’s an exemption for “historic” vehicles (30 years old and older), which Mayor Hidalgo herself is rumored to have requested, according to Hemmings. Cars that fall under that exemption are to be for “touristic” usage and/or registered with the word “collection” on their registration certificates. Apparently, it’s not too hard to get one of these designations: just visit City Hall, show them ownership and registration documents that prove the car’s age, and that’s it. Even better, such cars only have to go through government inspection once every five years versus every two years for other cars.

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Paris pollution bulletin

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While the banning of older cars from the city center may put the squeeze on certain residents, particularly lower-income individuals and small businesses, the French government is offering generous incentives for owners of old cars to upgrade to electrified ones, as well as incentives for local homeowners and property owners to invest in electric-vehicle charging facilities. Other recent measures for pollution control involve the creation of full- or part-time pedestrian-only zones.

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It’s not all for naught; the pollution problem is bad enough that Paris officials estimate that pollution “reduces the life expectancy of Parisians by six to nine months,” and that on a bad pollution day in Paris, you take in the equivalent of eight cigarettes’ worth of pollution in a 20-square-meter area. Traffic is blamed for two-thirds of the pollution and 55 percent of the particulate emissions found in the city.

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Are we upset by this? Not really. The last time anyone really had fun driving in Paris was 40 years ago, when Claude Lelouch tore through the streets of Paris for nearly nine minutes nonstop for the filming of C’était un Rendez-vous.

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