By on May 18, 2010

As Americans have noted, bailouts can get costly. Europe has just decided on a trillion dollar bailout for their southern European deadbeats member states. Who’s going to pay for all that? In Germany, raising taxes is taboo (for the moment.) Lowering taxes had been one of the wedding vows of the ruling coalition. They didn’t say exactly when, but raising taxes would be politically – not very smart. So how else to raise money? Where else than from our darling piggy bank, the hapless motorist.

There are louder and louder voices in the ruling center-right coalition that demand a pay-per-kilometer road tax in Germany. Norbert Barthle, speaker for budget matters of the CDU/CSU said he will introduce such an idea. As far as the leadership goes, he’s preaching to the choir, reports Automobilwoche [sub]. Germany could implement the idea literally at the flick of a switch. Germany has a working network for a pay-per-kilometer road tax. Since 2005, toll is being collected from trucks only. The system is technology-heavy, with GPS boxes, and a dragnet of cameras that catches road tax scofflaws. It is operated by a private company called TollCollect. Behind it: Deutsche Telekom and Daimler. In 2007, the system collected €3.3b from trucks alone, €556m went to TollCollect. Imagine the take from cars! Daimler could use a little extra dough as well.

For years, the system has been eyed with suspicion by the common motorist. Now, the “if it’s there, it will be used” fears may come true.

Germany is not the only country in Europe that has to save and raise money. A European model for truck tolls has been discussed off and on. It would not surprise us if there will be European plans to shake more coin out of the unarmed motorist. Properly green washed, outfitted with words like “fair” and “just,”  and bolstered by language along the lines of “why should drivers from [other country] drive for free on [our country’s] roads, which the [our country] taxpayer has paid,” the proposal will be waved through. If there is opposition, it will be blamed on bad, bad Brussels.

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12 Comments on “Germany May Take Its Toll. Europe To Follow...”


  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    Well stated regarding the arguments that will be used to push for this taxing technology in the US from the same people who believe that US gas prices should match the highest European prices.

  • avatar
    kitzler

    A Gas Tax is a very fair way to apply the pain to the high mileage driver and heavy footed or heavy loaded vehicle driver. Moreover, it is cheap to apply and there are practically no scofflaws.

    Having said that, I remember driving on fumes until I reached Luxemburg to fill my gas tank, the price there being 30% cheaper than Germany. So the system you describe would seem fair in Europe. In the USA a gas tax would reduce wasteful driving as well and perhaps encourage more car-pooling.

    If family transportation budgets remained the same, or close, the only downside to a gas tax is less money available to buy a new car.

    • 0 avatar
      vww12

      «In the USA a gas tax would reduce wasteful driving»

      Kindly define “wasteful driving.”

      I, for one, think that all of my driving is extremely rational and useful, whereas yours is wasteful.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      The current political climate in the US makes it impossible to raise gas taxes. Any pol who suggests to do so will be pummelled by his opponents. This leaves toll and tickets as the only available usage fee.

  • avatar
    john.fritz

    …perhaps encourage more car-pooling.

    Encourage or force? Oh, well now I’m dealing in semantics, right?

    Everyone who wants to pay an additional gas tax thinking that will somehow reduce their time spent driving, go right ahead and mail a monthly check to BHO. All those who want to carpool, go right ahead and find other like-minded individuals and have a great time. I assure you all, I will do nothing to interfere with your plans.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Cars really are to liberals what sex is to conservatives – the constant fear that someone is enjoying themselves in ways they disapprove of.

    Germany already has crippling gas taxes and doesn’t need any more money from motorists and all this will do is punish larger, low income families while making more money for TollCollect and the government.

    • 0 avatar
      1996MEdition

      “Cars really are to liberals what sex is to conservatives – the constant fear that someone is enjoying themselves in ways they disapprove of.”

      Contrary to both stereotypes, there’s a lot of voyeurism on both sides.

    • 0 avatar
      OMG_Shoes

      Cars really are to liberals what sex is to conservatives – the constant fear that someone is enjoying themselves in ways they disapprove of

      Cute, but wrong. Two or more consenting adults having sex (or for that matter one adult doing so alone) doesn’t really affect anyone else on the planet unless you really stretch for the indirect effects. That makes it nobody else’s business. Driving a car directly and negatively affects everyone else on the planet. That makes it everybody else’s business.

  • avatar

    Seriously, Kitzler, with your alias, I’d stay far, far away from any German (Austria, Swiss) topics. Must I go in to the NSFW details?

    Reminds me of a Chinese guy who insisted to call himself “Mumu.” Even after I cited chapter and verse of the Urban Dictionary, he wouldn’t change.

    • 0 avatar
      OMG_Shoes

      What is it with the Chinese and the random pretend-English names they pick in the belief it will help them do business with native English speakers? I knew one who called himself “Block”, and another who called himself “Rot”, and another who called himself “Clutch” (and no, he wasn’t in any business having to do with cars or transmission components). I’ll be perfectly happy to do the work necessary to learn to pronounce your proper Chinese name if you’ll just say it once or twice for me. If you feel you must pick an English name, fine. Pick one. There are many to choose from. Tom, Richard, Harry, Jean and Jane and a-who knows who, y’know?

  • avatar
    Stingray

    And once again, as usual, the normal citizen has to pay for the poor management of the politicians.

  • avatar

    Of course, a pay-per-kilometer road tax is the wet dream of each and every politician in debt-ridden countries. Makes them independent from declining fuel consumption and gives them additional room for wasting money.

    Once established, they will be able to “adjust” it every year according to their needs. If combined with a “financial transaction tax” public wasting can go on for a while.

    Europe/Germany will show that you can have it all: high fuel prices plus toll roads plus high taxes. That will save the planet and your local politician.

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