For less than $8K, France's new electric car could revolutionize clean transportation.

Cars are an expensive — but often necessary — part of life. And electric cars? Forget it.

That tends to be a problem with a lot of sustainable products: the overhead is just too high, even if it does ultimately pay for itself in the long run.

Unfortunately, this still leaves proponents of clean living in a a pickle. The only reason that fossil fuels seem more affordable is because of the infrastructure that's already in place.


How do you get people to make a large-scale shift toward greener transportation (which would bring prices down for everyone) when most of them don't have the cash for that initial investment?

The obvious answer is to just make them cheaper — and that's exactly what France is doing.

At the COP21 Climate Conference in December 2015, French Minister of Economy Ségolène Royal announced a global competition to create a small electric car that will sell for less than $7,500 (about 7,000 euros).


Ségolène Royal. Photo by France Ecologie Energie/Flickr.

According to Gizmodo and speaking through a translator, Royal explained that her goal is to "create an electric car for the people" — something light, small, and fast-charging that "may not look like traditional electric cars."

To help keep costs down, the French government is encouraging the use of replaceable batteries (not unlike the innovative Gogoro Smart Scooter), which can be easily swapped out and replaced at designated charging stations throughout the country.

Presently, the next-best option in electric transportation (for those of us who can't afford a $45,000 Tesla) is India's e20, which costs around $15,000. The Renault ZOE is also available in France for around the same cost, plus 49 euros a month for battery rentals.

The Gogoro Smart Scooter. Photo by Maurizio Pesce/Flickr.

The ultimate goal, of course, is to incentivize the development of affordable, sustainable transportation all across the world.

"The problem arises for other countries: they worry that if we stop the exploitation of fossil fuels, it hinders development," Royal explained in an interview with 20 Minutes (roughly translated in-browser by Google).

"It is therefore imperative to drive down the price of renewable energy to provide these countries the same level of development as the industrialized countries that have reached the using in the past, fossil fuels."

There will inevitably be cynics who question the lack of specifics available thus far in France's cheap electric car plan. But what matters more right now is the country's willingness to take these kinds of risks.

Photo by Jeremy Keith/Flickr.

And considering the tremendous strides that France has already made in sustainable development, there's no reason not to take them at their word.

The affordable electric car initiative was only one piece of a four-part plan that will double France's already considerable investments in clean energy.

That new plan also includes:

  • A commitment to bring the country to at least 20% electric vehicles by 2030 (part of the Paris Declaration on Electro-Mobility and Climate Change and the Zero Emission Vehicles Alliance). As noted in the official statement, “The higher volume of orders will help reduce production and marketing prices."
  • An additional 2-million-euro investment in MobiliseYourCity, which aims to facilitate transport planning projects in 20 cities in developing and emerging countries (and is only one part of an even larger global initiative).
  • Solar. Freakin'. Roadways! (OK not exactly this, but close enough.) Over the next five years, the government plans to deploy at least 1,000 kilometers of "energy roads" that incorporate photovoltaic cells to generate electricity.

Photo by Steve Jurvetson/Flickr.

Clean and affordable transportation is just one step toward a brighter future. But it still makes a difference.

Like I said, the only reason that fossil fuels are cheaper is simply because that's the infrastructure that's already in place. But if that same infrastructure had been established with a renewable, non-carbon-based fuel source, it would cost us even less — without the added bonus of environmental damage.

But because of that infrastructure that's currently in place, the only way to enact wide-scale change is to go all-in and make it happen — and that's exactly what France is doing.

Together, we can create a new global infrastructure that works for the people and the planet, instead of just the pockets of a few corporations.

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In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

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Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

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You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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