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German retailers want small commercial vehicles exempted from tolls

German retailers are urging the government to take decisive action by marking toll exemptions for small commercial vehicles. It is said that the measure would support the struggling road haulage industry, which is warning that its woes are putting essential supplies at risk.

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The call comes after industry representatives, including the German Retail Association (HDE), who met with Transport Minister Volker Wissing last week. The meeting resulted in the formation of a commission to develop solutions for the sector.

HDE managing director Stefan Genth stressed the crucial role of road logistics in keeping shelves stocked across the country.

Good roads, transport capacity and drivers are essential to supply retail outlets and stores, he stressed. Both the transport industry and retailers’ own fleets are at breaking point.

Rising costs, crumbling infrastructure and inadequate support for the transition to cleaner fuels are major challenges, the HDE warned. 

Recent increases in HGV tolls and CO2 pricing only exacerbate the problem by making road transport more expensive without offering viable alternatives.

Genth outlined a two-pronged approach to tackling the crisis. Immediate relief measures, such as biofuel rebates and toll exemptions for small commercial vehicles, are needed to ease the current burden.

But long-term solutions must also be prioritised, with a focus on promoting electric trucks and building hydrogen refuelling infrastructure. 

The economic operation of these vehicles is currently unthinkable due to the high investment costs, Genth explained.

He stressed the need for the new Commission to deliver concrete solutions, not just rhetoric. 

We expect the Commission’s work to be a serious attempt by the Ministry of Transport to address the challenges facing road freight transport, he said. Relying on rail alone, regardless of its political appeal, won’t be enough to ensure adequate supply across Germany.