Addressing the pressing issue of global climate change requires diverse actions, both at the national and international levels. The European Union (EU) has set an ambitious target, aiming to reduce CO2 emissions from road traffic by 30% by 2030, benchmarked against 2005 levels.
Germany is playing a leading role in this effort. The initiation of a toll for trucks on highways began in 2005, and expanded in 2017 to cover all state highways. With commercial vehicles accounting for around a third of all CO2 emissions in the transport sector, Germany is launching a new legal regulation that integrates additional CO2 pricing into the truck toll system.
Starting tomorrow, December 1, 2023, they are introducing a new way to collect tolls, which depends on how much CO2 a vehicle produces. The overarching objective is clear: incentivize eco-efficiency in road freight by rewarding transport service providers investing in sustainable, lower-emission, and lower-consumption vehicles.
Impactful Changes in German Road Toll Legislation
The introduction of a CO2-dependent truck toll for commercial vehicles over 7.5 tons marks a notable development, demanding freight forwarding and logistics firms, both domestic and transiting, to pay a surcharge of approximately 200 euros per ton of CO2 emitted. Notably, this toll regime expands to cover vehicles weighing 3.5 tons or more from July 1, 2024.
This assessment method calculates the CO2 emissions of vehicles, categorizing them into one of five specific CO2 classes. This incorporation of CO2 differentiation within the truck toll system links toll rates to a vehicle’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions on a per-kilometer basis. Henceforth, when placing toll orders, a critical specification emerges—indicating the CO2 class of your vehicle. The principle is straightforward: vehicles with lower CO2 emissions enjoy the advantage of reduced toll rates, while those with higher CO2 emissions bear the burden of elevated toll fees.
CO2 Class Determination
When figuring out your CO2 class and, consequently, the toll you need to pay, various data points come into play. These include the vehicle’s class, wheel axle configuration, permissible gross weight when loaded (F1) [kg], vehicle group, berth (sleeping cabin), motor power rating [kW], specific CO2 emissions [gCO2/tkm], date of first registration, and vehicle type/chassis configuration. The necessary vehicle details can be easily located in the Certificate of Conformity (COC), the CIF, or the vehicle registration document.
Vehicles initially fall into the CO2 emissions class 1, attracting the maximum surcharge. However, this classification can be adjusted upon the vehicle owner’s request, particularly for vehicles registered on or after July 1, 2019. For vehicles with a CO2 emission class surpassing 1, it’s imperative to submit evidence of changes to comply with revisions to the German Truck Highway Toll regulations.
Exceptions to the CO2 emissions toll
Zero-emission trucks such as electric vehicles, hydrogen-burning vehicles, and those with a hydrogen fuel cell, have toll exemption until December 31, 2025. From January 1, 2026, a reduced toll rate of 25 percent of the regular toll is mandated. This reduction encompasses infrastructure costs, resulting in a 75 percent reduced toll rate, along with toll portions for noise and air pollution. Vehicles with zero emissions and a gross vehicle weight (GVW) up to 4.25 tons are permanently exempt from tolls. On the other hand, trucks with CNG/LNG drive systems falling under Euro Emission Class 6 become subject to tolls starting January 2024.
Impact of the toll on transport companies
The upcoming increase in truck highway toll, potentially spiking by 83% based on a truck’s CO2 class, presents a significant challenge for transport companies grappling with rising costs. Newer trucks with lower CO2 emissions might see a more manageable 10-20% increase, but older trucks emitting more CO2 could face the full 83% hike. Additionally, the upcoming CO2 tax, fixed at EUR 200 per 1,000 kg CO2, introduces another layer of complexity to service pricing considerations.
The way trucks are charged for using roads and motorways in the European Union (EU) is changing. It’s not just about covering maintenance costs or looking at a country’s economy anymore. Now, tolls consider bigger things like the environment, the push to cut carbon emissions, and the use of eco-friendly tech and fuels. This shift means transport companies are navigating a new landscape where being green meets dealing with the budget.
This implementation of the German Federal Trunk Road Toll Act significantly also influences the operations of Integre Trans, but we don’t just view it as a business challenge; we embrace it with the recognition that addressing climate change is a crucial aspect of securing our future. Being part of this change is not only inevitable but also essential.