German truck toll increases due to CO2 surcharge

On long-haul routes, rail will pay off even more in the future.

From December 1, 2023, a new truck toll with a CO₂ surcharge of 200 euros per tonne of CO₂ will apply on German motorways and main roads. The surcharge depends on the emission class, weight, pollutant class and number of axles of the vehicle and is charged as a cent per kilometer. "It is a government imposed levy that is independent of our service but increases the actual costs," explains Florian Woebb, Head of Logistics Services at a. hartrodt in Hamburg. In future, the toll rates will be made up of four cost components – infrastructure, air pollution, noise pollution and CO₂ emissions.

Lack of affordable electric trucks and charging infrastructure for local and long-haul transportation

The CO₂ surcharge on the truck toll corresponds with the new version of the Climate Action Act, which the German government launched in June 2023. The aim is to reduce greenhouse gases by 65 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Germany is to be greenhouse gas neutral by 2045. Although Florian Woebb likes the environmental idea, he is critical of the fact that affordable electric trucks for local and long-haul transportation are currently just as unavailable as charging infrastructure.

Combined transport becomes even more attractive

The experts at a. hartrodt respond individually to customer requirements and look for the most suitable transport options. Florian Woebb observes that combined transport is becoming even more attractive, for example for full containers (FCL): "In future, it will pay off even more for customers to switch from truck to rail on long-haul routes. Tolls will then only be charged for the first mile." According to Florian Woebb, the proportion of long-haul FCL transport by rail will increase despite the possibility of slightly longer transit times. However, the new focus on earmarking toll revenue for rail could "only be a start" after decades of investment backlog.

In this context, Florian Woebb would also welcome "the massive subsidization of research and development of further emission-free truck systems as a whole". New cost increases are planned for 2024: On January 1, the CO₂ surcharge per liter of diesel will rise to 11 cents, and from July 1, trucks with a gross vehicle weight of more than 3.5 tons will be subject to tolls.