Reform of the motor vehicle tax: fuel guzzlers are becoming more expensive


From 2021 the vehicle tax will increase for new cars with high fuel consumption. The Bundestag decided on Thursday evening (September 17, 2020) to reform the vehicle tax. This is supposed to encourage citizens to buy more economical cars. Cars that have already been registered are not affected. In the future, vehicle tax will be geared even more strongly than before to how much CO2 a vehicle emits. The CO2 component is weighted even higher than the engine capacity.

Cars that will be registered for the first time from January 2021 and emit more than 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer will be charged a surcharge of two euros for each additional gram of CO2 on top of the tax burden otherwise calculated according to the engine size. The surcharge will then increase in stages to up to four euros per additional gram of CO2 for vehicles with CO2 emissions of more than 195 grams per kilometer. For cars registered from June 2020 to the end of 2024 with less than 95 grams of CO2 emissions, there is to be an annual tax bonus of 30 euros for a maximum of five years.

To put it into perspective: The maximum rate of 4 euros per gram of CO2 above 95 grams applies from a consumption of 7.4 liters of diesel or 8.2 liters of gasoline per 100 km – determined in the Worldwide Harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP). This consumption cycle has been in effect since the Euro 6c emissions standard, which has been mandatory for newly homologated vehicles since September 2017, and for all vehicles registered for the first time exactly one year later.

Part of the reform is that the already applicable vehicle tax exemption for purely electric vehicles will be extended until December 31, 2025, and should last until the end of 2030 at the latest. In order to achieve the climate targets, emissions must be reduced in traffic. New registrations of e-cars are increasing due to higher government purchase subsidies, but they are still at a low level. The federal government emphasized that the reform would serve climate protection, but at the same time mobility should remain affordable. The motor vehicle tax is a federal tax. It brings the federal government in around 9 billion euros per year.

Criticism came from environmentalists and the Greens. Green parliamentary deputy Oliver Krischer told the dpa: “With its poor reform, the federal government will hardly accelerate the switch to clean e-cars or more economical cars.” the reform planned by the federal government is not ambitious enough to have such a steering effect, i.e. to encourage customers to buy vehicles with lower emissions. On average, the vehicle tax increases by 15.80 euros per year, with many cars nothing changes. Compared to other European countries, Germany has low CO2-based vehicle taxes, but at the same time new cars in this country emit the most CO2.

The transport expert of the Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation Germany (BUND), Jens Hilgenberg, said the reform is little more than actionism. “There are hardly any incentives to buy low-emission or even so-called locally emission-free vehicles instead of highly emitting bodies. Driving cars with high fuel consumption will have to become significantly more expensive and unattractive if the federal government is serious about climate protection. ”This statement may apply to the reform of the vehicle tax, but ignores the fact that taxpayers are currently spending too much money there is a change in the types of drive in new cars. The purchase of e-cars and plug-in hybrids is currently heavily subsidized, although the environmental balance of the latter does not necessarily have to be better than that of pure combustion engines.

ADAC traffic president Gerhard Hillebrand also stated that the current reform could only be a first step. “In the future, we must consistently and completely align the vehicle tax with CO2 emissions in order to achieve an optimal steering effect.” Nevertheless, the present draft law is a reasonable compromise between more incentives for climate protection and affordable mobility.


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