18 Sep 2020, 13:27
Sören Amelang

Germany raises tax on high-emission cars, but critics call reform 'cosmetics'

Clean Energy Wire

The German federal parliament has agreed to a reform of the motor vehicle tax that will take into account CO2 emissions, but critics said the changes will do far too little for the climate. From next year, taxes will rise for new cars with high fuel consumption, but vehicles registered before won't be affected. Environmentalists and the Green party criticised the tax increase, arguing that it was much too small to deter people from buying high-emission cars. "With its meagre reform, the German government will hardly accelerate the switch to clean electric vehicles or more efficient cars," the Green party's Oliver Krischer told dpa newswire. Greenpeace transport expert Tobias Austrup said "a handful of euros" more for the tax won't stop people buying expensive high-emission cars. "This reform of the motor vehicle tax misses its purpose, it must be changed again soon," he added. Even Germany's biggest car drivers' association ADAC said the reform can only be a first step. "In the longer term, we must align the tax consistently and completely with the CO2 output."

In a commentary for Tagesspiegel, Jens Tartler called the reform "pure cosmetics." Given that taxes for the large Audi SUV Q8 will rise less than 42 euros and around 100 euros for a Porsche 911 sports car, "it is not daring to share the forecast of environmental associations and the Greens: Buyers of such expensive cars will not be deterred by such marginal tax increases - especially since many of these vehicles are registered as company cars."

As part of the reform, existing tax exemptions for electric cars will be extended to at least 2025. The uptake of low-emission cars has got off to a slow start in Germany, but the share of electric cars has recently picked up significantly. In August, 6.4 percent of new cars were battery electric vehicles.

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