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Friday, 23 November, 2001, 17:44 GMT
Asbestos law rattles French car makers
Cars in France
More than one in three French cars would be unsellable
The French car industry is gearing up to beat back a law that threatens to ban the re-sale of all cars made before January 1997.

From 1 January 2002, there'll be 20 million vehicles that will be unsellable

Jean-Loup de Salins
managing director
CNPA, the French automobile industry council,
The industry's efforts have come as a response to an obscure article in an equally obscure French newspaper which reminded them of a seemingly even more obscure decree that had been introduced by the former conservative government.

The almost forgotten decree would ban the sale of any cars older than five years due to a belief that asbestos could be found in the brake discs, gear systems and cylinder heads of some cars produced before 1997.

And the decree is, technically, due to be introduced on 1 January 2002, the newspaper Ouest France claimed.

Shocked industry

"This is a total regulatory aberration because from 1 January 2002, there'll be 20 million vehicles that will be unsellable," said the managing director of CNPA, the French automobile industry council, Jean-Loup de Salins in an interview with the news agency AFP.

There are currently 28 million cars in France, so an actual ban on the re-sale of 20 million of them is thought to be highly unlikely.

But the looming threat could help convince the industry to get its act together.

The CNPA will meet with the French employment minister, Elisabeth Guigou, next week to discuss the problem, said Mr de Salins.

"We're going to ask for a one year moratorium," he said.

Some French car makers used asbestos until 1993, though "when we've got a list from the manufacturers of the models which don't contain asbestos, that'll thin it out substantially", Mr de Salins said.

See also:

21 Mar 00 | A-B
Asbestos disease
02 Mar 01 | Newsnight
Dumping asbestos on Asia
21 Nov 01 | England
Asbestos danger in school kitchens
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