Germans Abolish Car Tax. For Now.

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
germans abolish car tax for now

Things must be really bad in Deutschland. Before, any German government of any persuasion raised taxes when times were good, and raised them more when times were bad. Debates before important elections usually are about how much taxes should be raised. Imagine McCain saying: “My friends, I will tax you more than that guy.” He’d get the vote in Deutschland. Well, the German government is now worried about auto sales. Scared scheissless is probably the better term. So scared they want to abolish the tax on cars. Totally. Well, at least for a while. And in a discreet green wrapper. Says so in today’s report by the German magazine Der Spiegel. Berlin’s cabinet left it to their Minister of the Environment, Sigmar Gabriel, to give the car crazy Germans the good news this morning: No tax on environmentally friendly cars for the next two years. Zilch. Nada. Nichts. “Environmentally friendly” is defined as compliance with the Euro 5 and Euro 6 norm. Which, for all intents and purposes, means no tax for all new cars coming to the market.

All models sold in Europe after September 1, 2009 must adhere to Euro 5 anyway. Many volume models, from the Audi A3 all the way to the VW Phaeton V6 TDI, do already. To not collide with the German principle of “Gleichbehandlung” (fair treatment– unless when taxing the “Besserverdienende”– the fat cats that make more than the poverty limit), the fine print of the new policy reveals that even an Euro 4 car will be able to drive tax-free for a year. Ke-rist, even the average Chinese CO2-generator-on-wheels survives the Euro 4 test, a stone age norm way back from 2003.

This news is coming on the heels of Brussels signaling that they will back a €40b “soft loan package” for the ailing European car industry. This package also comes in the fashionably green color. The money is earmarked to help the industry meet “ambitious” environmental targets– at least that’s the party line. Our sources quipped that the targets can be met easily, and that the money will be welcome to fund incentive packages. Ein witz, ja?

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  • Martin Schwoerer Martin Schwoerer on Oct 30, 2008

    It won't surprise anybody when I say I think this piece is akin to Joe the Plumber-type hyperbole. The past two German governments have been reducing taxes to a level at which they have been at the OECD average for quite some time. My source for this is the OECD revenue statistics regarding the total tax burdon. Nobody here in Germany has ever won an election with promises to raise taxes. But the electorate is skeptical about voodoo-economic concepts such as trickle-down, or "cut taxes and raise the deficit". Do you blame them? The government is proposing (and only proposing) to suspend taxes on new cars that have up-to-date emissions ratings. That has been done twice in the past, so it's not exactly hot news. And look at the sums we are talking about: a two-liter engined gasoline car rated at Euro 4 currently costs about 140 Euros in taxes per year. So what this bit of news means is that a new-car buyer saves around $400 US -- if the law is actually enacted. And this kind of non-news merits a cheap shot at a foreign country?

  • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on Oct 30, 2008

    @Martin: Cheap shot, written by a still citizen of same country no less. No wonder I was deported to China .....

  • Tassos The best way to charge is while your car is parked at work, if your employer lets you charge it for free (some do).After that, it's charging at home.Using chargers on a long trip is not only much more expensive than charging at home, and not only does it take 30 minutes or more vs the 5 mins tops to fill a gas tank, but many times with popular trips (eg LA- las Vegas very popular with others, not with me, I despise Las Vegas and the morons who consider it fun to give their hard earned $ to the casino owners), you should expect far more than the 30 min, as you may need to queue up, possibly for hours, until a damned charger becomes free.
  • ToolGuy What a concept.
  • Syke 95% of the time at home, Level 2. Occasionally hit free chargers, usually seems to be ChargePoint. Maybe 1-2% of the time, I'll hit an Electrify America.
  • 28-Cars-Later I would think this is a good thing. Assuming typical Chrysler resale hits the Hornet, its pretty close to an Alfa for less.
  • Luke42 I charge at home whenever I can using a 220V outlet in my garage and a Tesla Mobile Charger.Charging at home is *much* cheaper than DCFCs, and also more convenient. DCFCs are just for roadtrips. Superchargers (and other DCFCs) cost about 3x charging at home, so they're only worth it if you're on a roadtrip.My local grid is also pretty clean -- MISO can be as much as 48% wind + nukes (both zero-emissions) on a good day. A typical day is 1/3rd zero-emissions, 1/3rd NG, and 1/3rd coal.Every EV owner who can charge at home does, because it's the best way to charge.