21 Apr 2020, 13:25
Julian Wettengel

German media criticises proposal of coronavirus premium for carmakers

dpa / Handelsblatt / taz / FAZ / WirtschaftsWoche

Several German newspapers have run commentaries critical of a proposed buyer’s premium on cars. The premium would support the car industry in dealing with the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis.

“State support for modern petrol and diesel cars, as some conservative politicians demand, would be flat out wrong,” writes Stefan Hajek in an opinion piece in WirtschaftsWoche. It would punish those who have invested billions into alternative drives with which they do not yet make profits and flood the market with new petrol cars and thus increase CO₂ emissions for years to come, he writes.
Instead of putting taxpayers' money back into a scrappage scheme, “now disguised as an innovation premium”, the EU's CO₂ reduction targets should be adjusted, writes Holger Appel in an opinion piece in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). “Hopefully this crisis is a wake-up call for sharp but technically and financially feasible climate targets and a path marked by openness to [various drive] technologies.”
In the tageszeitung (taz), Anja Krüger warns of a resurrection of the scrappage premium programme introduced after the global recession 2008/2009. “This would be disastrous,” as back then there had not been a positive effect on the environment. Many people had used the money to simply buy bigger cars, writes Krüger. Today, “every euro spent on the support of passenger cars is wrongly invested. Instead the money must be put into expanding public transport to make it a sector of the future with lots of new jobs.”

Germany's carmakers – who are slowly ramping up production in the wake of shutdowns caused by the coronavirus outbreak – have floated the idea of a buyer’s premium. Such a premium could be aligned with the CO₂ emissions of the individual model, Ralf Brandstätter, COO of the Volkswagen passenger cars brand, told news agency dpa. “This could help accelerate the switch away from old diesel cars,” he said, adding that a buyer’s premium should also include modern combustion engine cars. Handelsblatt reports that the federal government and carmakers will discuss possible instruments to support the industry in a meeting on 5 May. 

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