A French government ministry says it "is working" on the extension of the country's low carbon vehicle grant that could see the scheme remain beyond 2012.

Current grants of EUR5,000 (US$6,600) are available until the end of next year, but the government is now evaluating extending this period - although with a likely tapering off in finance provided as the vehicles become more popular.

"I am announcing the government is working on extending this scheme after 2012," said industry minister Eric Besson at Renault's Guyancourt Technocentre. "It's obvious we can't, from the day after, cease all support for low carbon vehicles," adding nonetheless the precise callibration details of this were as yet unknown.

"The amount of this scheme can no doubt be progressively reduced, to take account of the take-off in the low-carbon market, from the reduction in cost of producing low-carbon vehicles and with the objective of balanced budget," he said.

President Sarkozy had announced the EUR5,000 figure in 2008 - an amount now extended to the end of next year - but the "progressive reduction" thereafter referred to by Besson has not yet been revealed.

However, despite that uncertainty, the industry minister sought to reassure purchasers that at least some grant would be made available.

"What strikes me as essential, is that consumers and manufacturers know that in any case, there will be low-carbon vehicle purchase support beyond the end of 2012," said Besson.

The news follow hard on the heels of France's decision to extend its so-called 'green loans,' to manufacturers with the scheme eventually allocating a pot of EUR250m.