Dirty company cars are being subsidised too much, complain the Öko-Institut in Freiburg and the think tank Agora Verkehrswende. According to the institutes' calculations, the subsidies paid by German taxpayers for privately used company cars amount to up to six billion euros annually. Since it is mainly fuel-guzzlers with high engine power that are purchased by companies for their employees, this unnecessarily complicates the transport transition.
The two institutes have also analysed that it is mainly high-income households that benefit from the tax rebates for privately used company cars. Half of the tax rebates apply to the fifth of high-income households. Only one-fifth of the money, on the other hand, benefits households that are not so well off, which is about 50 percent of the recipients. It was also found that privately used company cars generally have a much higher engine power than privately registered cars. In addition, many more kilometres are driven with company cars than with private cars. This is mainly due to the fact that drivers are provided with a company fuel card, which leads to the impression of getting more money the more kilometres one covers. But also in the long run, the financial support of combustion cars as company cars is problematic, because the vehicles are sold as used cars after a few years and thus continue to pollute the environment. Due to these disadvantages, both Ökoinstitut and Agora call for a reform of the subsidisation of company cars: Subsidies for internal combustion vehicles should generally be dispensed with.
An analysis by the market research institute Dataforce is interesting in this context: in the first half of 2021, for the first time, more cars with alternative drives will be registered than vehicles with petrol drives. According to the analysis, the demand for diesel and petrol cars is steadily decreasing. It goes on to describe that only 42 percent of new cars are diesel, whereas it used to be 76 percent on a regular basis. Most popular are plug-in hybrids (17 percent) and electric cars with eleven percent. Volkswagen models in particular are used as company cars (21 percent), followed only by BMW and Mercedes models. In the study, the fleet managers also comment on the future prospects of company cars: three-quarters of them want to reduce CO2 emissions with the help of electric and hybrid vehicles. Last but not least, image also plays a major role, because if you want to be popular with corporate customers, you have to focus on an environmentally friendly fleet.
A reform of subsidies, as called for by the Öko-Institut and Agora, could strengthen the trend towards more ecological company cars and make city centres cleaner.