Will a gas shortage in France spike electric car sales?

Renault, a French automaker, has amped up its marketing of electric cars, hoping to take advantage of gas shortage in France.

Francois Mori/AP/File
A Zoe electric car is passed through the Renault assembly line in Paris, France.

When it comes to spurring electric-car sales, it seems a gas shortage is pretty helpful.

In France, strikes have brought the oil industry to a standstill, leading to a shortage of fossil fuels and lines at pumps.

That's bad news for drivers of gasoline and diesel cars, but good news for carmakers that sell plug-in models.

Manufacturers are taking advantage of the gas shortage with marketing campaigns, and are already seeing increased interest in their electric cars, reports CNN.

Renault launched a new ad campaign this week for its Zoe electric car, featuring social media posts and newspaper advertisements.

"In France, we don't have any more petrol but we do have Zoe," read one tweet.

The campaign led to a 50-percent increase in calls from consumers for information about the Zoe, Renault said.

The Zoe was the best-selling electric car in Europe in 2015, but this year it's faced stiffer competition from the Nissan Leaf, made by Renault's Japanese alliance partner.

Electric-car owners also reportedly began posting carpool offers online, hoping to aid drivers without access to fuel.

Citroën posted a photo on Twitter showing electric cars representing the red, white, and blue of the French flag.

"Fed up with queuing? Here's a solution," read the caption.

Strikes at oil refineries that are affecting fuel production were called last week in response to new labor laws that reportedly make it easier for employers to fire workers, and reduce overtime pay.

Workers in the nuclear-power industry and public transportation are also striking to protest the new laws.

The legislation was enacted earlier this month in a move that bypassed the French parliament; officials say the changes will make France a more attractive place for businesses, and boost economic growth.

Labor unions are demanding the withdrawal of the new rules, and are threatening further strikes.

While a gas shortage may have boosted interested in electric cars, it helps that France is already a fairly strong market for them.

The government offers generous purchase incentives for new electric cars, including bonuses for consumers who send old diesel cars to scrap when they buy new plug-ins.

In 2015, France was Europe's second-largest market for electric cars, behind the U.K., according to data from LMC Automotive.

The roughly 65,000 electric cars and plug-in hybrids sold in France last year represented just over 3 percent of the total sold in all of Europe.

[hat tip: Brian Henderson]

This article appeared first in GreenCarReports.

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