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Dirty company cars

Company cars in Germany still run on diesel and petrol far too often, putting the brakes on climate policy. A full 87% of new company cars have a combustion engine. The fleet urgently needs to be redesigned to save CO2.

76% of CO2 emissions from new cars come from company cars. It is true that there are generally more company cars than private vehicles among newly registered vehicles, namely about 63%. Since these vehicles are usually driven much more than private vehicles, their emissions are much more significant and have a huge impact on the climate balance of the transport sector.

The environmental protection organisation Transport & Environment (T&E) is therefore calling on the sector to become much more ecological and to do its part for sustainable transport. 87% of new company vehicles still have a combustion engine. According to T&E, their emissions amount to about 7.4 million tonnes of CO2 per year. This corresponds to about 4% of the emissions of the transport sector as a whole.

According to T&E, Germany is also the only major market in the EU where demand for e-cars is higher among private buyers than among commercial ones. In other countries, the majority of company cars are pioneers in electric mobility. This could also be due to the fact that while there are premiums for the purchase of e-cars, there are hardly any tax disadvantages for the owners of combustion cars.

However, the trend of company cars is slowly changing in Germany as well. Although 80% of company cars were still diesel vehicles in 2020, experts like Roland Meyer, managing director of the leasing and fleet management provider Leaseplan Deutschland, see the time to switch to electric as very favourable. This is due, among other things, to the high subsidies from the state, but also to the fact that e-cars are usually less maintenance-intensive than combustion engines, as some vulnerable components are eliminated. In addition, drivers of electric company cars can also benefit, as only part of the vehicle price has to be taxed and electricity is - at least for the time being - significantly cheaper than petrol and diesel. However, as with the private use of e-cars, the range and charging network of the electric cars are also a concern for fleet managers.

Some companies are already focusing on a climate-friendly image, electrifying their vehicle fleets and installing charging stations in company car parks and at employees' homes. In order for the majority of companies to rely more on electric vehicles, as in other countries, a seamless charging structure and a reliable range of vehicles are needed, but also more disadvantages, for example in the form of taxes for companies that continue to rely on diesel and petrol.