I see your point on the M8 tech cost. But the Americans do have greater map control. They can also tech reactively with stickies for their general units to counter the hotchkiss, as it's main gun IS shit especially when there aren't any/many vehicles around at this stage. PE can't cheaply tech to any reliable AT if an M8 comes a knockin' and the game will probably be won right there.
15Fuel - AT halftrack
35Fuel - shrecks
Thats cheap to me.
Also stickies arent realiable! Chasing an armored car with infantry is suecide (and costs 35ammo
You cant expect to to have the best assault rifles+4 men (55fuel) and tanks that are better than anything that US T3 has (75fuel) when US needs to choose between BARs (60 fuel) or ACs (125-135fuel)
It can't be pushed back to the same teching cost as puma because wehrmacht has units that can fill the void beforehand. PE only has pretty much unupgraded PGs. I think that 95 fuel is honestly fine. Remember that US has rangers and airborne readily available, stickies are only 25 fuel and a required upgrade anyway, and an AT gun is only 95 fuel away as well.
If stickies are required than AT guns (that wont work well vs ACs/light tanks without sticky infantry support) are 120 fuel away.
AT guns should be earlier than tanks (wehrmacht 50mm - 60 fuel, Marders 80 fuel, 17lbs 70fuel, Soviets 30fuel) becouse they are slower than tanks and should set up before tanks come rolling in.
Also remember that PE has Wirblewinds and Hetzers.
Both callins are as usefull as the expensive to maintain and reinforce US elite infantry.
Fun fact: The hotchkiss is identical to the stuart without any upgrades.
This means it cant be damaged by samllarms but it will defeat a Stuart if upgunned. What quick
AT unit will the british have if Cromwell is 215 fuel away
and (thats the fun part) 2 50mm Hothkiss can destroy it anyway?
Sappers run slower than light tanks and Churchills are slow too. Remember that counters to Hotchkiss should be earlier and cheaper than this light tank.
If PIAT sappers could move while in ambush (like stormtroopers) and rangers were available at 2CPs than PE could have their very early tanks.
I know that PE is now a little UP but making one of the units 60fuel earlier
(think about what you could do with 60 or even only 30 more fuel at the start of the game) wont help to ballance the game.
Making Hotchkiss 5fuel cheaper or giving it better armor (M-10s armor) would be a good solution to the UP French tank.