KsNI – Schrödinger’s cat in the transport sector

KsNI – Schrödinger’s cat in the transport sector

— 2023-11-01

News from Brussels

I keep hearing from the industry: “We need an overall concept!” But that has been around for a long time. Truck fleet limits are currently being negotiated at the European level , the Bundestag has just approved an expansion of the truck toll , in the Charging Infrastructure II Master Plan the Federal Government has already set ambitious plans for the expansion of the charging infrastructure and the so-called funding program for climate-friendly commercial vehicles and infrastructure ( short: KsNI) of the Ministry of Transport is already running - or was it running? This is exactly where the overall concept is shaky.

In order to radically reduce CO2 emissions in road freight transport, we have to switch from combustion engines to zero-emission trucks. As with any transformation, this initially costs money. This is also the case with electric trucks, which are currently even more expensive to purchase, but will pay off in terms of total operating costs compared to combustion engines from 2024. The KsNI is intended to support companies in meeting the high initial investments in new trucks. The funding program is even being discussed positively abroad. But anyone who currently wants to apply for KsNI funds will quickly realize that the funding pots are empty. After just two calls for funding within a year and a half, all funds have already been used up. The program was so well received by the industry that funding from the 2024 budget has already been allocated. Originally, one call per quarter was planned. But the Ministry of Transport is currently leaving companies completely in the dark as to whether a third call for funding will come. That is bitter. Because this is how the support KsNI becomes Schrödinger's cat: it is there and not at the same time.

As an environmental association, T&E is often not among the first to call for comprehensive funding programs for industry. But transformation doesn't happen half-heartedly and as a former entrepreneur I know: you can't plan with Schrödinger's cat. Uncertainty slows things down and leads to investments being postponed or canceled. 

And time is of the essence – in terms of the climate and the economy. The Bundestag has decided to start the truck toll in December. It includes an additional CO2 surcharge for diesel trucks and significantly favors zero-emission trucks. At the same time, the European truck fleet limits are to be decided by the EU institutions in the next few months. At the same time, the European truck fleet limits are to be decided by the EU institutions in the next few months. According to the latest negotiations by the EU Council and the Environment Committee of the EU Parliament, the law will most likely require truck manufacturers to produce significantly more zero-emission trucks.

In confidential discussions with the Ministry of Transport, manufacturers have already confirmed that they can achieve and even exceed these limits. They have to, because the competition from China and the USA is great . But for the transition phase, in which production increases until prices fall, the promised financial aid for the domestic sales market is extremely important.

An overall concept can only work if all pillars are implemented clearly and reliably. We currently have the opportunity to transform road freight transport so that it is better for the climate and the economy. With the CO2 toll and the upcoming truck fleet limits, Germany is currently in pole position to decarbonize road freight transport and at the same time make the local truck industry fit for the future. So that we don't stop halfway, we also have to promote charging infrastructure and vehicles at the same time. Mr. Wissing, it is up to you whether Germany brings its lead to the finish line or not.