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EU countries have started implementing the bloc’s new truck tolls, including new CO₂-based ones. Whether they’re new or additions to existing systems, they will have a big impact on logistics. What will those be? We asked Axxès and DKV Mobility for their perspectives.
EU | Brussels

The EU’s new carbon toll: Complexities, shortcomings and solutions

16 Apr 2024 · Environment

EU countries have started implementing the bloc’s new truck tolls, including new CO₂-based ones. Whether they’re new or additions to existing systems, they will have a big impact on logistics. What will those be? We asked Axxès and DKV Mobility for their perspectives.

What is the roll-out plan in each country? How harmonised will the new systems be across the EU? How can operators, shippers and other logistics firms comply more easily with the new systems? What else do logistics firms need from their suppliers and the EU and its Member States?

Join us and our members Axxès and DKV Mobility for our webinar on 25 April to get the full answers to these questions and much more.

For now, here’s a preview of what is to come.

How have the increased toll rates impacted your work?

Axxès: As a toll service provider, we had to adapt our systems and services. The changes have been completed in Germany and Austria. Other countries will follow suit. 

Beyond the pure impact on IT systems, there is extra work for our teams and clients. For each vehicle, we need to collect the adequate documents and analyse them to find the necessary data to determine the CO₂ class.

In addition, we have included the CO₂ tariffs in our toll simulator, BMAP, so our clients can calculate the new German tolls in advance.

DKV Mobility: Generally, the registration process has become significantly more complex. Our customers need to provide new documents, which are then forwarded to the toll charger.  

To determine a vehicle’s CO₂ class, we have created a CO₂ class check.

Our customers also require more information about differences in CO₂ toll tariffs and their implementation in individual toll domains (Germany, Austria, Czechia, etc).

What are the short-to-long-term challenges or consequences of the new tolls?

Axxès: The objective of these policies is to use price signals to encourage the uptake of zero-emission engines. The CO₂ class logic therefore includes a regular review of the categorisation of each vehicle, with an increasing level of requirements. Now, the main challenge is the lack of viable alternative solutions, at an acceptable cost, to replace existing trucks.

DKV Mobility: As we can see from the registrations of our customers, only a small share of their fleets can be assigned to a CO₂ class higher than 1. Even if a customer acquires new trucks a few months before the introduction of CO₂ tolls, those trucks may not necessarily be assigned to CO₂ class 2 or 3.

How is the lack of transparency impacting your work?

Axxès: The situation is less about a lack of transparency than the complexities of the methodology. 

For example, the list of data required to classify a vehicle is extremely extensive. After collecting the data, you must put it through a complex matrix.

In the future, a better solution would be that manufacturers provide the CO₂ classification of their trucks in different configurations and with different trailers.

DKV Mobility: With our CO₂ class check, we have an easy and convenient tool for our customers. It helps them determine the CO₂ class of their vehicles and manage the entire registration process for the toll charger. We give our customers full transparency and all the information they need.

What is the biggest shortcoming of the new tolls, and what can be done about it?

Axxès: While the objective of the EU was to ensure that toll systems are interoperable in Europe, this is not the case in practice. Each country is implementing its own toll solutions, with its own specificities and technical complexities, even if there is a common technical ground. 

Only toll service providers provide interoperable solutions. However, this requires important investments and regular adjustments to new toll domain openings or changes to a domain’s scope or structure. The fee paid by the toll chargers to the toll service providers does not cover the costs of this complexity. 

In the end, it’s the transport companies that pay those services on top of the toll itself, making it hard for them to charge their clients. The road transport ecosystem should lobby to ensure interoperability at a reasonable cost for transport companies, but this is a public policy topic.

DKV Mobility: Based on our international experience, we have observed that vehicle documents (vehicle registration certificates, certificates of conformity, customer information) are not standardised throughout the EU. 

This increases the complexity, especially when it comes to data collection and communicating with customers. Moreover, in most cases, our customers do not have a customer information file available, which includes the information required to determine the CO₂ class of a vehicle.

What lessons should countries take from those that have rolled out the new tolls?

Axxès: In Germany and Austria, the law was passed and implemented very quickly. The technical specifications had been given to toll service providers (EETS providers) in advance, so that they could adapt their systems. The issue was therefore not technical. However, the road transport ecosystem reasonably deserves at least three months to prepare and inform its clients, particularly about the tariff increases.

DKV Mobility: Transparent communication is paramount for informing service providers and their customers. They need to clearly understand the requirements for registering a vehicle and determining its CO₂ class and CO₂ toll tariff surcharge. They also need an adequate implementation period before the introduction of CO₂ tolls. Determining the CO₂ class of a vehicle circulating in the respective toll domain is not a quick process.

Will the new tolls incentivise the uptake of zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles?

Axxès: This is the primary goal of this policy and tolling is used as one of the price signals. Yet, the cost and scarce availability of zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles seem to be real obstacles. A solution could be to allocate the revenue of CO₂ tolls to research and development. This may encourage the production of more cost-effective and credible zero-emission vehicles. Otherwise, the new toll rates may just be an additional tax.

DKV Mobility: In the long run, the new toll rates will certainly have an impact in this direction.

What solutions and best practices do you recommend to better navigate the new toll rates?

Axxès: The new toll rates need to be understood as one of the visible parts of a long-term EU policy in favour of decarbonisation. Nobody will disagree with this objective. However, such cost increases now place toll costs among the highest in road transport. Toll costs should serve their purpose and encourage the development of greener solutions for this transition. If not, the risk is to cause shocks for which the transport ecosystem is not prepared.

DKV Mobility: We would recommend checking the CO₂ class of vehicles via our CO₂ class check. If the result shows a class higher than class 1, we take care of the registration process with the toll charger and let customers benefit from lower toll tariffs. Our website also provides a comprehensive overview of the upcoming CO₂ toll changes.

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