Billions are missing for electric trucks: the trucking industry warns of the “Cuba effect” and the additional burden of tolls
The new toll for trucks will come into force from December. Only electric trucks are exempt. However, only a fraction of heavy trucks are powered by electricity. The freight sector believes it will continue this way for a long time, unless funds are massively reallocated.
There is also good news for the federal government in the midst of budget chaos: starting in December, a reliable source of income will begin to arrive: the new truck toll. In addition to the existing CO2 emissions tax on fuels, an additional toll increase will apply for the transport of goods by truck. For the first time, this also includes vans with a curb weight of 3.5 to 7.5 tonnes. The toll will be applied from July 2024, except for artisanal businesses.
The goal of the toll is to encourage more companies to opt for electric trucks, since they are the only ones exempt from the additional toll. Emission reductions through alternative fuels are not taken into account.
But the budget chaos worries the trucking industry.
To fund the switch to electric trucks, the federal government would have to spend much more money than is currently planned, according to the shipping industry:
- According to the Federal Association for Road Transport, Logistics and Disposal (BGL), an electric truck costs around 2.5 times more than a diesel truck: we are talking about additional costs of between 150,000 and 200,000 euros.
- Despite the reduction in tolls for electric trucks and the savings in operating costs, the BGL believes that almost no business owner will be able or willing to risk these additional costs without significantly increased financing. “Even before the ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court on the Climate Transformation Fund (KTF), the commitment appropriations (VE) for the years up to 2028 for climate-friendly commercial vehicles, of 86 million euros, were insignificant in comparison with the needs. Currently there is a lack of funds to continue the program completely,” the association stated. Other funding projects are also not sufficient or have already been exhausted.
- The shift to electric trucks is also hampered by the fact that carriers still hope to have long-term experience with these vehicles. Diesel trucks achieve up to six-figure mileage within a few years; The useful life of diesel engines and the residual values that can be achieved after resale offer entrepreneurs great planning security. In the case of battery-powered trucks, it is still not entirely clear what state the vehicles, the propulsion and, above all, the huge battery will be in after years of hard daily use.
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Currently there are almost no large electric trucks
In any case, Stromer trucks are still exotic. “The number of electric vehicles (e-trucks, hydrogen trucks and hybrid trucks) currently exempt from tolls in Toll Collect is 475 vehicles, which corresponds to 0.059 percent of the 800,000 trucks that circulate on German roads every day” , states the association. Therefore, there would have to be much more than a double whammy if the goals of electrifying truck traffic are to be achieved. But that is exactly what is not in sight given the current budget freeze.
Truck boss welcomes toll fines for diesel trucks, but misses more investment
Carriers and truck manufacturers don't necessarily agree on the issue of tolls. For example, the head of the truck giant MAN, Alexander Vlaskamp, expressly welcomes the new climate toll from the federal government. “Germany has taken a big and right step by increasing the toll for diesel trucks. Investments in electric trucks will pay for themselves more quickly,” said Vlaskamp in an interview with “Automobilwoche.”
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However, it also complains that the infrastructure for the operation of the desired electrical park remains totally inadequate. Approval procedures must be accelerated and access for “third-party investors” to build charging infrastructure improved.
“Then there will be a Cuba effect for trucks”
If politicians do not provide the necessary framework conditions and also exceed the scope of regulation of new diesel trucks during the transition phase to electric trucks, Vlskamp fears a serious effect: then “the transport industry will go on strike over the issue of electrification and “Their combustion trucks will simply go on strike and continue using them. This creates a Cuba effect for trucks: we will continue to have old fleets,” said the MAN boss.
BGL board spokesman Dirk Engelhardt also calls for significantly more investment from the federal government, focusing not only on electric trucks but also on alternative fuels: “Instead of investing the 30 billion of additional income from the CO2 toll until 2027 on trains projects in the distant future “If they invested in financing programs, expansion of charging stations, but also in incentives for the use of alternative fuels, it would be invested in a much more effective way for the climate.”
Alternative fuels are once again the focus of attention
However, the Greens in the traffic light coalition and at European level still oppose climate HVO diesel and other alternative fuels. Christoph Ploß, chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the Transport Committee of the German Bundestag, explains to FOCUS online: “The state must set effective climate targets, but companies and consumers can decide much better than politicians or officials what best technologies can be achieved. This applies to both passenger cars and commercial vehicles. If, in view of the traffic light budget crisis, it is already foreseeable that financing for electric trucks will be available in a much smaller proportion than necessary, then the potential of climate-friendly fuels such as e-fuels must be exploited or synthetic HVO diesel. It should also be explored as quickly as possible, identified and exploited as much as possible.”
Tolls are passed on to consumers
While it's not yet entirely clear how the federal government will fund the desired driving shift, you can at least expect significant additional toll revenue from the diesel penalty tax. We are talking about 30 billion euros until 2028. MAN boss Alexander Vlaskamp estimates that truck manufacturers will only be able to market their new electric trucks in large quantities from 2025. In the meantime, the companies will pass on the increase of the toll to the consumer. Although this represents only a few cents per product transported, it is a considerable amount. The BGL estimates that the additional burden for an average household due to the toll is 150 euros per year and 300 euros for a household of four people.