It will be more expensive: From 1 December, hauliers will have to pay an additional toll of 200 euros per tonne of CO2 for their diesel trucks. The law passed by the Bundestag is intended to generate additional annual revenues of almost eight billion euros and encourage companies to switch to low-emission trucks. However, the success is questionable, as freight forwarders from the Rhine-Main area unanimously make clear. They pass on the costs and do not buy electric vehicles, which in their view are still far too expensive and for which there are still too few charging stations. It is probably the consumer who is footing the bill, and construction prices are also threatening to rise further as a result.
A total of 100 trucks, including 80 large forty-tonne trucks, are on the road at the Heidelmann haulage company based in Schwalmstadt. Managing Director Till Bischoff speaks of the "very large economic impact" that the CO2 toll has on his company. "This amounts to additional annual costs in the seven-figure range," he says when asked, adding: "This increases our costs by five to ten percent." As Bischoff says, his company is in the fortunate position of being able to pass on the cost increases to customers. "At the end of the day, it's an indirect tax. We collect the money and pass it on to the state," says the managing director, adding: "Everyone complains that they have to pass on the costs. At the end of the day, it's up to the citizens." Bischoff therefore suspects that the toll could cause inflation to rise by around 0.5 percent next year.
The freight forwarder does not see a steering effect, because there is not a sufficient supply of electric vehicles. "Some manufacturers say that they will put 300 electric trucks on the road next year, with several hundred thousand trucks currently on the road – that's just a drop in the ocean, of course," he clarifies, summing up: "You take the second step before the first." In addition, the economic viability of electric trucks is currently not given despite a toll exemption due to the exorbitantly high acquisition costs.
Costs are passed on to customers
André Holecek, Managing Director of Zahn Logistics GmbH in the Mainz-Kastel district of Wiesbaden, is even more explicit. "Catastrophic," he replies to the question of how the new toll will affect his haulage company, and specifies: "The toll will increase by 83 percent for us." He fears that some of his customers could switch to a larger transport company if he tries to pass on the costs. The question is how big a company is to be able to compensate for the costs. "We are a family-run medium-sized company and have 15 tractor units," says Holecek, adding: "We are already somewhat dependent on our customers."
The managing director calculates the specific costs of the new toll. Accordingly, the toll fees for a distance of 150 kilometers for a diesel truck will rise from 26.49 euros to 1.48 euros on December 52. His warning: "If someone is left with these costs, then it can actually mean the end for companies in our industry." A switch to electric trucks is currently out of the question for him, because the acquisition costs are simply too high. Holecek also points out: "Anyone who goes shopping in the supermarket will pay for it."