Traffic light coalition agreement on mobility: signals for a traffic turnaround

There may be people who hoped until November 24 that the potential partners at the federal level would get tangled up in details that would prevent such an alliance. That was not entirely ruled out, despite all the euphoria presented at the presentation of the coalition agreement, as Christian Lindner smugly put it: “The talks were just as controversial as they were discreet.”

Since almost nothing leaked out in advance, it must have rattled a lot behind the scenes. But the treaty is in place and, particularly in the area of ​​mobility, it is making a serious attempt to bring together three ideas, some of which are quite different.

The fact that the FDP has not only prevailed on the subject of speed limits, but also sees itself anchored in the personalities of Wissing as the future transport minister in this area, should not hide the fact that the transport sector is facing huge changes. The coalition will want and have to work on these together.

In such negotiations, the implementation of individual ideas – keyword “no speed limit” – has a price. Who himself the coalition agreement (download) If you take a closer look at the subject of mobility (from page 48), you will quickly find that the FDP was prepared to accept points for taking over this ministry that did not correspond to its own ideals.

Even in the introduction to the chapter on mobility, one can easily imagine how hard each sentence was wrestled with and by whom it was enforced: Significantly accelerate practical implementation. For us, mobility is a central component of services of general interest, a prerequisite for equal living conditions and the competitiveness of Germany as a business and logistics location with future-proof jobs. “

The auto industry is already undergoing a profound change, the preparations for which began years ago are slowly becoming visible in the on-site salesrooms. The manufacturers are well connected in politics and have a lavishly furnished lobby. So it cannot be assumed that in future a policy will be directed against their interests. This becomes abundantly clear between the lines of the coalition agreement. It is true that they want to work for an “ambitious” Euro 7 emissions standard, but when it comes to implementation, “added value and jobs have to be taken into account”.

The auto industry should be supported in digitization and decarbonization. A binding end to the combustion engine is not stipulated, but all cars newly registered from 2035 should only be able to be refueled with e-fuels. If you look at the current developments in the industry, it becomes clear why the Greens were able to give in with a light heart on this point. The range of new vehicles with internal combustion engines should be pretty clear in 14 years.

The supply of new vehicles with internal combustion engines will probably be quite small by 2035.

For this, work has to be done on the charging infrastructure, which is also recorded in detail. Obstacles in approval processes, in the network infrastructure and the network connection conditions are to be dismantled, and municipalities are to be supported in planning. Very interesting: bidirectional loading is only mentioned in a subordinate clause. Here, too, the coalition partners want to take legal action so that the battery in e-cars can be used as storage. This is likely to have an impact on the cost of such storage facilities at home. There are still adventurous prices in some cases, although at least in some cases the cells come from secondary recycling.

The realignment of the innovation bonus was also fierce. Here it can be seen that the FDP, which in this trio should see itself as an advocate for industrial interests, has given in. She did it with a certain sense of proportion, because even in these circles it was clear that the previous subsidies for plug-in hybrids could not remain unchanged. From January 2023, the bonus will only be paid out for vehicles that have been shown to have a “positive climate effect”, which the coalition partners define via an electric driving component and a minimum electric range. This alone does not yet exist, because it hides power consumption, just like many plug-in hybrid drivers do. Still, the step is correct.

The tightening, according to which plug-in hybrids are only subsidized if they can drive at least 80 km purely electrically in one go, will be brought forward to August 1, 2023. It is not specified whether this range has to be achieved in the outdated NEDC or in the current WLTP. The tightening is likely to trigger a certain hustle and bustle among manufacturers here and there, but that is by no means certain. Because the coalition agreement is silent on a previous, huge loophole: A model is also eligible if the CO2-Emissions are less than 50 grams per kilometer. This does not end the subject, but a precise clarification is missing.

Skoda Octavia Plug-in-Hybrid

Skoda Octavia Plug-in-Hybrid

The funding conditions for plug-in hybrids are tightened – at least at first glance. In the picture: Skoda Octavia iV (test)

A reform of the taxation of company cars, some of which can also be operated electrically, is likely to have provided plenty of material for discussion. So far, the private use of a PHEV company car has to be taxed as a pecuniary benefit at half a percent of the gross list price. With a vehicle price of 50,000 euros, the taxable income increases by 250 euros per month, and not by 500 euros as with company cars with a conventional drive. So far, this discount has been valid regardless of whether the driver makes use of the option to drive electrically or not.

In future, they should only benefit from the tax relief if they have covered at least 50 percent of the distance electrically. This has to be proven – how, the contract probably deliberately leaves open. Theoretically, one possibility has been created with the emission standard Euro 6d-ISC-FCM, because FCM stands for “Fuel Consumption Monitoring”. In the car, the consumption is recorded and saved. Who is allowed to read out this data and how to process it is still the subject of discussions. After all, word got around that money can be made out of data, which is known to arouse desires on various levels.

Given the current fuel prices at gas stations, commuters who have opted for diesel to cut costs will read a section on page 162 with some concern. Because in the short three-line text that describes the implementation of the EU Energy Tax Directive, there is a reduction in diesel subsidies. That could mean: The price difference between diesel and petrol at the filling station will be even smaller, but so will the difference in vehicle tax. You can expect that running a car with a conventional drive will never again be as cheap as it is now.

BMW 118d

BMW 118d

Diesel fuel could be more expensive, but the vehicle tax could be a little less expensive. In the picture: BMW 118d (test)

What is certain is that the long-term, far-reaching change in the mobility sector is set to accelerate dramatically. This does not just mean shifting investment funds that many coalitions have already written into their contracts. When building roads, they always wanted to preserve the existing structure before building new ones and to strengthen the rail. In the implementation, however, the dates at which new road sections were ceremoniously opened in a dreary construction site atmosphere were obviously too tempting. Nevertheless, there is no lack of priority to maintain roads and not to build new ones and to strengthen rail traffic, not even in the 2021 edition of a federal coalition agreement. The budget for road rehabilitation is to be increased annually until 2025.

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