Berlin (dpa) - For new cars with high fuel consumption, the vehicle tax will increase from 2021. The Federal Cabinet has now launched a change in the law in Berlin to increase climate protection, which should encourage citizens to buy more economical cars.

Already registered cars are not affected. For typical small cars and family cars, not much changes according to the plans of Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD); the situation is different for large and heavy SUVs. The automotive industry sees this as a “fair compromise”. By contrast, environmentalists believe that little will change.

The tightened climate component planned by the federal government takes effect from 96 grams of CO2, which is emitted per kilometer. Compared to today, it should be increased from 116 grams per kilometer and then gradually increase. This makes the tax more expensive, especially for newly registered SUVs or sports cars.

Now it's the turn of the Bundestag - changes are likely. "In the parliamentary procedure, we will check whether one has to readjust in one place or another," said SPD parliamentary group deputy Sören Bartol. Everyone involved would be very interested in implementing the new regulation quickly. "We definitely want to avoid possible purchasing restraint due to a lack of planning security." CSU country group leader Alexander Dobrindt said that they wanted to "set a strong incentive for environmentally friendly mobility".

Environmentalists criticized the federal government's bill. "With regard to the space consumption and CO2 emissions of the large SUV and limousines, the vehicle tax is still far too low even after the planned increase," said BUND traffic expert Jens Hilgenberg of dpa. The tax must not only be spread more, but also based on real CO2 emissions instead of the "official, but often unrealistic information" on consumption. Already the purchase of gas guzzlers must be made more expensive. The Green Party leader Anton Hofreiter sees it in a similar way, who spoke of a “small form” and accused the coalition of symbolic politics.

The Association of the Automotive Industry welcomed the cabinet decision. It was a "fair compromise that required concessions from everyone involved and increased the steering effect of vehicle tax," the association said. In perspective, it could make sense to replace the “outdated” displacement component of the tax by taking into account pollutant emissions such as nitrogen oxides and soot particles, the VDA further suggested. "This would be an incentive to buy new vehicles with low levels of pollutants in addition to pure CO2 considerations."

The FDP, on the other hand, sharply criticized the plans of the black-red coalition: "A motor vehicle tax increase in the middle of the economic crisis is insane and counterproductive," said traffic politician Oliver Luksic of the dpa. The coalition is thus exacerbating the problems facing the automotive industry. "For employees and car owners alike, this is another low blow at the wrong time."