Germany could remove tolls for electric trucks as it aims to incentivise industry

05 June 2018

05 June 2018

Germany’s federal government is looking to boost electric trucks in the country by removing them from the ′truck toll’ at the beginning of 2019.

Trucks travelling on roads within Germany are charged based on distance driven in kilometres and the number of axles on the vehicle, as well as its emission category. Money is collected from all trucks, both domestic and foreign, with funds going back into the autobahn network.

However, in a bid to increase the uptake of electric technology in the country, improving air quality by moving away from heavily polluting diesel vehicles, Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer has suggested that hauliers using e-trucks would not pay any of the charges for using the country’s motorways. This could save around €5,000 per vehicle on average for logistics companies. 

Scheuer is said to have presented the proposal in the course of the closed meeting in Meseberg and expressed that the new regulation is a ′great incentive for transport companies to switch to environmentally friendly vehicles’, according to the SÜddeutsche Zeitung.

There are only a small number of manufacturers offering electric trucks, and just 12,000 are registered in Germany. However, companies are looking to invest in electric technology and move away from diesel. While the car market is pushing on, in the commercial vehicle sector, moving to electric power is difficult due to range issues and overall vehicle cost.

However, the plan to remove electric trucks from tolls could be benefited by a change in July, which will see the charges apply to federal highways as well as the autobahn network. This will multiply the amount of toll road from 15,000km to 55,000km. As e-trucks and vans are used close to the city given their range limit, the new regulation could well turn out to be an e-mobility engine. To date, the truck toll introduced 12 years ago adds around €5 billion a year to the country’s economy.

Meanwhile, in order to increase Germany’s competitiveness in the global electric vehicle production market, the government is ready to offer support to battery makers, with the possibility of exempting them from some energy levies, according to Economy Minister Peter Altmaier.

Speaking at an industry event, Altmaier said the production of batteries for EVs was not necessarily a matter for automakers, but the future manufacture of battery cells must be guaranteed. The German government would support that.

Altmaier said a possibility might be to exempt the batteries’ energy-intensive production from some electricity charges. He added that decisions must be made soon on EVs and future technology in cars.

Continental is considering building a battery gigafactory in Europe and developing solid-state batteries for electric vehicles, while Bosch recently admitted its plans to do so were on hold.