Reaction to the motorway toll: Smaller trucks for the vehicle pool

The motorway toll for trucks puts transport companies under pressure. The purchase of smaller and toll-exempt vehicles might pay off.

Munich. The introduction of toll charges for trucks in Germany has been postponed until November 2 -- but vehicle pool managers at transport companies are already thinking of the effects the added costs will have on their businesses.

"The toll for trucks will increase the variable vehicle costs on average by 30 percent," said Juergen Schulz from Locom Consulting in Karlsruhe.

The logistics service company Schenker Deutschland AG expects a total of additional costs of 62 million euros per annum.

Johannes Vogler, head of traffic organization at Schenker, expects that prices charged to customers will increase by 15 percent.

"Those transport companies who don't increase their prices will find it difficult to survive," Vogler predicted.

The German transport sector has already been looking at alternatives to the toll. There are two possibilities: routes that do not include motorways or changes within the vehicle pools.

"Most companies don't like the idea of driving on national roads as they would lose too much time," said Stefan Huntemann, managing director at the consulting firm Logiplan in Wildeshausen, near Bremen.

"The main focus has to be on optimizing the whole of the transport chain. That way toll can at least be partially avoided."

Heidrun Wettengl, managing director of the committee for economic matters at the Federal Association for Road Transportation, Logistics and Disposal in Frankfurt, said: "The increased use of smaller trucks such as 7.5 tons or the 12-ton heavy vehicles, which are exempt from the toll, will not pay off in the long term."

Wettengl said the cargo would have to be split, which would double the vehicle costs, and two drivers would have to be employed.

The Federal Department of Transportation already announced that the weight of vehicles that need pay toll could be brought down at any time should the amount of smaller trucks on German roads increase significantly due to the new tolls.

However, truck manufacturers are increasingly introducing 12-ton trucks at commercial vehicle exhibitions. All large European manufacturers such as DAF, Iveco, MAN, Mercedes-Benz, Renault and Volvo have a wide range of toll-free vehicles on offer.

A spokesman for MAN said: "It is also worthwhile to think about the permitted trailer weight. Some of our 12-ton customers also buy trailers for the transport of several separate freights, which of course makes the vehicle subject to the toll."

The spokesman added: "They then leave the trailer at the first point of delivery in order for the vehicle to be exempt from the toll for the remainder of the journey."

MAN and Mercedes-Benz have not yet had an increased demand for 12-ton trucks.

Transport companies that carry low-weight but high-capacity loads and want to be exempt from the toll will likely find suitable vehicles at smaller manufacturers.

Ackermann Fahrzeugbau (or vehicle construction) in Oschersleben has constructed a 13.60-meter long semi-trailer unit that only weighs 1.6 tons and is pulled by a 7.5-ton tractor.

Product manager Joachim Eich said a payload of 4.6 tons is "more than Enough" for transporting goods such as furniture.

Vehicle manufacturer Tang in Hilden has built a 1.5-ton single-axle trailer made of aluminum, which is to be used in conjunction with a 7.5-ton truck.

It is exempt from the toll and the purchase costs will be amortized within a year as the low weight results in lower diesel consumption.