For Robin Hase, gasoline prices right now are one thing above all else: “Extreme shit.” 2.30 euros for a liter of premium petrol shows the price table on Thursday morning at a petrol station in the southern part of Munich, when the mechatronics student supplies his car with new fuel, diesel even costs 2.39 euros. “In the meantime, you only work to be able to afford to drive,” says Hase.
So maybe Saarland’s Prime Minister Tobias Hans was not so wrong when he was a week ago posted a selfie video on his Twitter channel, also recorded in front of a petrol station. “It’s absolutely wild,” he says in it, turning to the award board. “Two euros twelve! I really think has reached a point where you have to say you have to act.” And then follow very harsh words to a politician: The problem, says Hans, is that the state “enriches” itself on the increased energy costs. “And that’s why there needs to be a fuel price brake,” he demands. It is now a matter of speaking up to the federal government.
But what leeway does the state have, and really fills up more expensive than ever in terms of income?
In fact, much of the fuel price in Germany is due to taxes and levies: The energy or mineral oil tax is 65.45 cents per liter for premium petrol and 47.07 cents for diesel. These amounts are fixed. In addition, 19 percent VAT – at a price of 2.20 euros per liter, ie 35.1 cents – and the CO₂ tax, which depending on the share of biofuel adds an additional eight cents per liter. In total, there is about 84 øre per. liters to the state for diesel and about one euro for the Super E10. The rest of the price – about 137 øre for diesel and about 120 øre for petrol per. liters – consists of, among other things, the price of raw materials, costs for the refinery, transport and distribution as well as the companies’ profits involved. Product cost is likely to be the biggest item at the moment.
Poland has already significantly reduced fuel taxes. Therefore, gasoline costs about 50 cents less there
When it comes to fuel prices, Germany is usually about 20 cents above the European average. Refueling is only more expensive in Scandinavia, Greece and the Netherlands. Those who can drive across the border into Austria, Poland or the Czech Republic. Prices that are significantly lower than in Germany, in Austria the savings are around 30 øre per. liters of gasoline, in Poland you can even fill for about 50 cents less per. liters. In fact, this difference is mainly due to the tax burden.
In Austria, for example, the mineral oil tax is 48.2 øre for petrol and 37.9 øre for diesel – and is therefore significantly lower than in this country. The value added tax in the neighboring country, on the other hand, is even slightly higher than in Germany by 20 percent. But also in Austria, taxes on petrol must be raised significantly from July 2022. The fact that the tank in Poland is particularly cheap is not least due to a temporary reduction in VAT – the tax on petrol and diesel was recently reduced from 23 to eight percent to counter inflation .
Would that also be the right way for Germany to relieve consumers in the short term? It requires more and more politicians like Union leader Friedrich Merz or Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder in addition to the ADAC. According to calculations from the car club, a reduction from 19 to seven percent would give about 22 øre per. liters in current prices.
Transport researchers calculate that fuel used to be more expensive in relation to net income
But there are also transport experts who are far more cautious when looking at current fuel prices and who point out that these absolute record numbers must be set in relation to income. Even with petrol prices around two euros per liter, drivers still have to spend a smaller part of their income on refueling than was the case ten years ago, says Gernot Sieg, director of the Department of Transport Science at the University of Münster. In fact, the price of petrol has risen from an average of 85 cents per liter in 1997 to 1.54 euros per liter in 2021 and now to two euros. But in the same period, the average net salary of all employees increased from 1334 euros to 2088 euros.
Sieg adds the technical development. According to this, the consumption of the most economical VW Polo has fallen from 6.8 liters per. 100 km (year of construction 1997) to 5.31 liters per. 100 km for the construction year 2019. If you sum up all this and assume an annual mileage of 12,000 kilometers, which is just below the German average, then it shows on the one hand that the Germans have recently been used to low fuel prices: in 2020 drove an employee only one Polo had to pay 3.8 percent of his consumption salary on refueling. The current leap upward is therefore all the more violent.
On the other hand, it also shows that the burden on fuel prices over the years has been higher, for example in 2012, when there was an intermediate height and a Polo driver had to spend 6.5 percent of his salary on petrol. Under current conditions, this peak would only be reached again if the price of petrol rose to over 2.40 euros, Sieg calculates. His conclusion: “Although motorists have become accustomed to relatively low fuel prices and price increases are painful because they reduce consumption in other areas, this may not be an argument that plays a crucial role in decisions on oil embargoes against war criminals.”
Other traffic researchers such as Ferdinand Dudenhöffer from the Center Automotive Research in Duisburg warn against “overdramatizing” the current price of petrol stations: For an average German driver, it is about 40 or 50 euros more per month, such “heights” in price there. is again and again and they would moderate again. And what is this additional burden in relation to the situation in Ukraine. “Hundreds of people die there every day as a result of the Russian war of aggression. Large cities are being destroyed,” Dudenhöffer said.
Stefan Bratzel from the Center of Automotive Management (CAM) in Bergisch Gladbach also advises calm. His direct response to Tobias Hans on Twitter: More than 40 percent of the personal kilometers driven by car are for leisure and holiday purposes. If you drive about ten percent less in your free time, you end up with more in your wallet at a price of two euros per liter *. Incidentally, according to the car researcher, you could also switch to a bicycle. “It’s not a dispensation!”
On Thursday morning, Andreas Bauer stopped at the gas station in Munich with his wheel loader, he works in civil engineering. Bauer says he tries to drive less in his spare time. But to work? “I can not see cycling to work at five in the morning when it is minus five degrees.”
* Editor’s note: We have specified Stefan Bratzel’s statement again because it was originally worded in a vague way. The idea was that ten percent fewer trips would ease the wallet even with current fuel prices.