By Michael Rothe
Kathleen Kitsche, Managing Director of Kekila family winery in Lauba, is worried about the prices for its juices and fruit juice drinks in the trade. "We will have to increase them sharply in January," says the boss of the six-strong business, which supplies mainly Upper Lusatia with six hectoliters produced annually. The blame lies with the increased truck toll, the entrepreneur says. She buys raw materials such as oranges, tomatoes and pineapples in Spain and elsewhere - "and I have to pass on the additional costs somehow.
Like the wine press house near Görlitz, many companies that rely on deliveries or are themselves on the road as hauliers are feeling the pinch. On December 1, the government's multi-billion dollar source of revenue will be expanded to include a CO2 surcharge - based on 200 euros per ton of carbon dioxide - and from July next year will be extended to smaller trucks weighing more than 3.5 to 7.5 tons. This was decided by the Bundestag and Bundesrat last Friday. Craft businesses will be exempt, as will electric trucks until the end of 2025.
The additional revenue of around 30 billion euros by 2027 is to go first into improving the rail network and relieving the roads of traffic. Each freight train replaces around 50 trucks, according to the calculation. The new rules are also an incentive to get more clean vehicles on the road, according to the FDP-led Federal Ministry of Transport.
Charging infrastructure missing
But that is precisely what critics doubt. There are still hardly any electric trucks and e-charging points. The Dresden Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) puts the acquisition costs for electric trucks at 360,000 to well over 400,000 euros, twice as much as for conventional trucks. The necessary charging infrastructure is lacking, especially in rural regions, he said. "In the district of Görlitz, there are a whole 84 charging points, many of which cannot be approached by trucks at all or have such weak charging capacities that it makes no sense in terms of time," says IHK President Andreas Sperl.
"By changing the design parameter from permissible gross weight to permissible technical gross weight, many vehicles in the 7.49-ton range not only become subject to tolls prematurely, but also slip into the next weight category up," grumbles Dietmar von der Linde, managing director of the State Association of the Saxon Transport Industry (LSV). The consequences for the transport sector are "significant - regardless of whether the transports take place in the logistics chains of the manufacturing industry or whether they are journeys in the trade or service industry. Observers also see parcel services affected and food banks that transport food donations.
The online mail order company Amazon has not yet reached a final verdict and is examining possible consequences. For parcel delivery to the customer, it is probably less relevant, they say. On the "last mile", trucks with a total weight of less than 3.5 tons are usually on the road.
Minister minimizes costs
According to calculations by the Federal Ministry of Transport, toll costs account for only a small portion of transport costs - and even smaller ones account for about 0.1 percentage points of the total cost of the end product. "Noticeable effects on the consumer price level are therefore not to be expected," it says from the house of Minister Volker Wissing (FDP). A price of 100 euros would thus only increase by ten cents.
"I don't share this view," counters LSV head von der Linde. "The effects will hit both the manufacturing industry and the private consumer hard," he predicts. "It's the citizen who pays the bill - whether in furniture stores or supermarkets." Annual additional costs of 400 euros per household are more of a positive forecast.
According to IHK President Sperl, the toll costs per truck at 400 kilometers per day and half use of highway and country road currently amount to about 20 euros. After the reform, it would be around 46 euros.
The Netzwerk Logistik Mitteldeutschland also has other figures: "Per 100 kilometers, the costs increase by 13.40 euros," calculates association chairman Marko Weiselowski. On the Dresden-Düsseldorf route, additional costs of 80.24 euros would be incurred. Ideally, the freight forwarder could pass this on to the client, who could then pass it on to his end customers. "Depending on the goods to be transported, this may only be a small share per item, but if you take current prices as a basis, the increase on this route would be almost ten percent," says Weiselowski.
No envy of the craft
Also forwarding businesses would sit on the costs for unavoidable empty runs, criticize the network executive committee and boss of the Sachsenland Transport & Logistik GmbH Dresden. He also criticizes the short-term nature of the law and "the far too long lack of clarity, which would require companies to implement the changes very quickly. "And we warn against placing an undue burden on smaller companies in particular in an industry that is essential for supplying the population and the economy," he said.
The 133 logistics networkers in central Germany are not envious of the trades. "Our members are rather relaxed about it because it's a completely different sector of the economy," says Weiselowski. And whether the law is constitutional is a matter for others to judge.
The bottom line is that there is widespread criticism from Saxony's business community. Even the skilled trades, which are exempt from the new regulations, are only cautiously jubilant. "For us and comparable industries, it was also possible to achieve exemptions as a result of many years of efforts by the Saxon Crafts Council," says Dresden Chamber President Jörg Dittrich. "Nevertheless, it can be assumed that supplies will become more expensive." It is not yet possible to put a precise figure on what consumers will ultimately have to pay. The additional costs for energy would nevertheless be more significant.