‘State aid for LNG-powered trucks in Germany harms intermodal transport’
The German committee on Transport and Digital Infrastructure has recommended to extend until 2023 the experimental road toll exemption of natural gas (LNG) powered trucks. It made this announcement on 6 May. The exemption has been in force since 1 January 2019, but according to intermodal players, it results in unfair competition.
“The Bundestag Transport Committee made a fundamentally flawed decision last Wednesday”, commented the UIRR, the representative body for the combined transport industry in Europe. Long-distance trucking is indirect competition with intermodal transport, which aims for rail or barge to cover long distances. The exemption of road toll for LNG-powered trucks has harmed the intermodal industry, the UIRR explains.
“Voting through the extension to 2023, as recommended by the Transport Committee to the Bundestag, would force the intermodal sector to file an anti-competition complaint with the European Commission, as well as the relevant German authorities.”
Voting through the extension to 2023 would force the intermodal sector to file an anti-competition complaint
On 18 September 2019, a comprehensive comparison study of diesel- and LNG-powered trucks was published, the lobby group continues. “The findings, based on measurements by TNO, an independent laboratory, indicate that all three currently available LNG-powered trucks emit between two to three times more nitrogen oxide than diesel trucks, while their particulate emissions are just as great as that of their diesel counterparts.”
According to the UIRR, this is new evidence that the technology does not benefit society. This evidence was not available at the time the experimental exemption of toll was introduced, but it should have been taken into consideration when proposing the extension until 2023. “Any sort of state aid promoting a particular technology that competes with other technologies in a open marketplace, in this case LNG, is wrong, unless the spread of the technology is proven to be in society’s interest. Politicians should not choose technologies, even if they are advocated for by seemingly powerful lobbies.”
Any sort of state aid promoting a particular technology that competes with other technologies in a open marketplace, in this case LNG, is wrong
In addition to this, European road hauliers already enjoy a competition-distorting public subsidy advantage of ¢1,5/tkm over their competitors: rail freight and inland navigation. UIRR has calculated that this advantage equals to €0,40 per vehicle-kilometre for a fully laden truck and is worth €22 billion annually on the level of the European Union.
In the case of Germany, UIRR continues, the purchasing of LNG trucks is subsidised by 12,000 euros. “The exemption of an LNG truck from the road toll in Germany, assuming a 100.000km annual circulation, effectively adds another 18,700 euros worth of state aid per year per vehicle. The experimental toll exemption granted to LNG trucks in Germany further increases the ¢40 per vehicle kilometre price advantage already enjoyed by trucks over other modes of land transport by an additional 47 per cent.”
‘Do not extend this’
These subsidy schemes altogether cause an intolerable distortion within the competitive longer distance land freight transport marketplace, the lobby group argues. “The European intermodal sector including, but not limited to, its German members hereby calls on the Bundestag not to extend the market-distorting experimental road toll exemption granted to LNG-powered trucks that has been in force since 1 January 2019.”