Diesel and gasoline-powered vehicles officially are an endangered species in Germany, and possibly all of the EU. This after Germany’s Bundesrat has passed a resolution to ban the internal combustion engine starting in 2030, Germany’s Spiegel Magazin writes. Higher taxes may hasten the ICE’s departure.
An across-the-aisle Bundesrat resolution calls on the EU Commission in Brussels to pass directives assuring that “latest in 2030, only zero-emission passenger vehicles will be approved” for use on EU roads. Germany’s Bundesrat is a legislative body representing the sixteen states of Germany. On its own, the resolution has no legislative effect. EU type approval is regulated on the EU level. However, German regulations traditionally have shaped EU and UNECE regulations.
EU automakers will be alarmed that the resolution, as quoted by der Spiegel, calls on the EU Commission to “review the current practices of taxation and dues with regard to a stimulation of emission-free mobility.”
- “Stimulation of emission-free mobility” can mean incentives to buy EVs. Lavish subsidies doled out by EU states have barely moved the needle so far.
- A “review the current practices of taxation and dues” is an unambiguously broad hint to end the tax advantages enjoyed by diesel in many EU member states. The lower price of diesel fuel, paired with its higher mileage per liter, are the reason that half of the cars on Europe’s roads are diesel-driven. Higher taxes would fuel diesel’s demise.
In the one year after the diesel scandal became public, customers were mostly unmoved, and the diesel take rate barely budged, until in August, Germany’s regulator Kraftfahrtbundesamt registered a sudden, and sharp drop in the registrations of diesel cars. Last week, the reputable AID Newsletter, read by auto executives all over the world, reported that “environmental storms sent Europe’s diesel car demand into a steep downward spiral.” In Germany, diesel sales dropped 5%, while the fuel fell more out of favor in neighboring countries. August diesel sales were down 5.8% in France, 5.5% in Belgium and Luxembourg, and a whopping 12.9 percent in the Netherlands.
On a EU level, the chart drawn by AID shows only a mild trend reversal, but it “fails to hide fully the severity of the underlying diesel car sales crisis in Europe,” AID editor Matthias Schmidt tells its high-paying customers. Schmidt is not quite ready to write off diesel completely.
“On all accounts I don’t think you can read too much into August data as it is so unrepresentative and full of anomalies, in Europe at least,” Schmidt told me from his office in Berlin. “Let’s wait for September data to filter through for more detailed analysis.”
The diesel take rate fluctuates widely across Europe , AID data show, from 18% in the Netherlands to 70% in Ireland, with differing taxes usually the reason. In EU volume markets Italy, France, and Spain, diesel’s adoption rate stands solidly above 50%
With diesel already on its tipping point in Europe, higher taxes and increased prices at the pump would be the beginning of the fuel’s end. As evidenced at the Paris auto show, the EU auto industry seems to be ready to switch to electric power, and politicians just signaled their willingness to force the switch to zero-emission, if necessary. Environmentalists undoubtedly will applaud this move, and the sooner diesel is stopped from poisoning our lungs with cancer-causing nitrous oxide, the better. Cult-like supporters of electric carmaker Tesla will register the developments with trepidation.
When EU carmakers are forced by law to produce the 13+ million electric cars the region would need per year, the upstart carmaker would lose its USP, and end up as roadkill. Maybe even earlier. Prompted by a recent accident on a German Autobahn, experts of Germany’s transport ministry declared Tesla’s autopilot a “considerable traffic hazard,” Der Spiegel wrote yesterday. Transport Minister Dobrindt so far stands between removing Germany’s 3,000 Tesla cars from the road, the magazine writes. Actually, until the report surfaced, the minister’s plan was to subsidize Autopilot research in Germany’s inner cities. “Let’s hope no Tesla accident happens,” the minister’s bureaucrats told Der Spiegel. It happened, but no-one died.