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Retrofitted diesel trucks eligible for German highway toll breaks

10 December 2008

Last month, the German parliament adopted a proposal by the Minister for Transport which increases the rates and modifies the structure of the Maut toll for highway trucks. Effective 1 January 2009, trucks retrofitted with PM emission control devices, such as diesel particulate filters (DPF), will be eligible for preferential Maut toll rates.

Under the new rules, older diesel trucks that have been retrofitted with emission control devices that reduce PM emissions to a level equivalent to Euro III or Euro IV will be levied the same Maut toll rates as Euro III or Euro IV vehicles, even if their NOx emissions remain higher than the respective standards.

The same Maut Category B rates will be applicable to Euro IV trucks and to PMK II trucks. The PMK II (Particleminderungsklasse = particle reduction class) vehicles are Euro III trucks (PM = 0.1 g/kWh) upgraded to Euro IV PM emissions (0.02 g/kWh). Thus, the nominal PM emission reduction efficiency for such upgrade is 80%. To achieve such efficiency, the PMK II retrofit devices must be wall-flow diesel particulate filters. The required minimum efficiency, however, could be less for Euro III engines with PM emission levels below 0.1 g/kWh.

The Maut Category C rates will be applicable to both Euro III trucks, and to PMK I trucks. The PMK I vehicles are Euro II trucks (PM = 0.15 g/kWh) upgraded to Euro III PM emissions. The nominal minimum PM emission reduction efficiency for such upgrade is 33%. Therefore, the PMK I retrofit devices will likely be flow-through filters (“PM oxidation catalysts”).

The toll rates have been structured to create a disincentive for the operation of oldest, high emitting trucks. As a side effect of this approach, retrofits with flow-through filters (PMK I) may produce a higher Maut rate benefit than retrofits using the more efficient wall-flow DPF technology (PMK II). Truck operators that upgrade from Euro II to PMK I will receive about 8 cents per km Maut break (from 28.8 to 20.4 cent/km for a 4-axis vehicle). Trucks upgraded from Euro III to PMK II will enjoy a more modest toll break of about 2 cent/km (from 20.4 to 18.3 cent/km for a 4-axis truck).

The German LKW-Maut toll, introduced in 2005, is a governmental tax levied on all trucks using the Autobahn highways, both foreign or domestic. The toll is based on the distance driven, number of axles and the truck emission category.

The Maut toll was an important driver in the early adoption of Euro IV/V trucks equipped with urea-SCR technology. These trucks, first introduced in 2005, were in many cases launched ahead of regulatory deadlines.

Source: German Ministry for Transport (Press release | Maut rates)