Higher tolls for higher emissions | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 24.03.2015
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Higher tolls for higher emissions

Germany's scheme to charge tolls for the use of its autobahns now has some good news and some bad news for foreign drivers. The latest details reveal that it all depends on what kind of car you have.

Germany's scheme to start charging foreigners for racing on its legendary autobahns could get more expensive for owners of vehicles with high emissions. In the process, it will net the transport department 13 million euros ($14.25 million) more than originally planned. The added income comes from a new way of pricing the tolls.

Staggered scheme

The original plan was to charge all vehicles with foreign license plates a flat rate of 10 euros for 10 days. German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrint has developed a new calculation based on pricing toll stamps according to a vehicle's emission classification.

A car in the lowest category would pay 5 euros for the ten-day period, the next category would cost 10 euros, and vehicles in the highest category would pay 15 euros. A similar staggered scheme is also planned for toll stamps valid for two months.

Drivers of cars with German plates will also pay tolls for driving on their roads, but those costs can be offset from their annual vehicle tax. The toll law goes before the German parliament in Berlin for approval later this week, and is scheduled for implemetation next year.

It has been the focus of a major confrontation between Germany's political parties, torn between the need to raise income to improve Germany's transport infrastructure and the unpopularity of just about anything that threatens Germans' love of their cars.

While road tolls based on distance traveled are common in other parts of Europe, Germany will be introducing tolls for the first time.

kc/hg (AFP, Reuters)

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