Germany has more than 48 million passenger vehicles on the road. This means that for every 10 inhabitants in Germany there are 5.8 passenger vehicles on the road, of which 34% of the owners are women and 32% are over 60 years of age.
Last year, almost 1 million (907,000) new vehicles were registered. However, this was 10% lower than in the previous year.
Although motor vehicles are one of the major pollutants and generators of greenhouse gases, consumer behavior is beginning to change its position on this issue, as evidenced by the increase in registrations of electric and hybrid vehicles. Registrations of gasoline-powered vehicles decreased (-28%), and diesel (-36%); while registrations of electric vehicles increased (+83%) and hybrid vehicles (+62%); as well as those of liquid gas (+54%). See more in detail in table 1: The Stock of passenger cars on January 1, 2022, by federal state and selected fuel types. *
The stock of passenger cars on January 1, 2022, by federal state and selected fuel types
|State||Gasolin||Diesel||Liquid Gas||Natural gas||Elektro
(*Source Table 1: The Federal Motor Transport Authority is a higher federal authority in the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport)
During the 2020 pandemic year, fuel consumption fell by 9% compared to the previous year. However, since 2010 consumption has steadily increased, and in parallel fuel consumption in road freight transport increased by 8% between 1995 and 2019 (See Diagram 1: Fuel consumption of passenger car and station wagon in million liters), which may be due to the rise of virtual stores or e-commerce during these years, which significantly changed consumption habits, where individuals no longer drive the vehicle to the store, but order the product via the internet.
(Source Diagram 1: Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (ed.), Transport in Figures 2021/2022, p. 309)
Of these 48 million passenger vehicles registered in Germany, almost 2.3% are more than 30 years old. The average age of PV is 10.1 years. See Diagram 2.
Germans continue to prefer mostly German brands, followed by Japanese, French, Chechen, South Korean, and Italian brands (2022 data). (See Table 1: Passenger car population in the years 2013 to 2022 by selected countries of origin); however many of these vehicles are being produced abroad.
A study by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) at the Gelsenkirchen University of Applied Sciences showed that Germany’s share of value in automobile production has fallen significantly in recent years. In the production of Audi models, for example, a large part of their parts come from Hungary. In BMW, the engines come from Austria, Great Britain, and the USA. Ford, being the 3rd most sold brand in Germany, its engines come from England, Germany, and Spain. At Opel, Opel engines come from Austria, Hungary, and Poland and some models are assembled in Spain, Belgium, England, and Poland. Last year, 3,096,165 passenger cars were produced in Germany, almost 12% less than in the previous year.
Nevertheless, Germany depends on the European market, and relies on Europe for the production of vehicles, unlike other countries, which compete with low vehicle prices produced in factories that offer low wages to their workers and lower quality.
All this effort is demonstrated in the greenhouse gases generated by the production of a single-passenger vehicle in Germany. For this, we must take into account factors such as the origin of its parts and materials, the assembly process, and the type of combustion.
According to The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, (ACEA), “the CO2 emissions per car produced in Europe dropped by 25.4% between 2006 and 2021, while the overall figure went down by 45.9% over the same period, reflecting the industry’s efforts to reduce CO2 emissions from production.”
Another environmental factor that does not have to do with vehicles directly, but does have an impact, is roads. Every vehicle that is produced is planned or expected to roll on Germany’s roads for a certain period, so roads play a role in the life cycle of vehicles.
According to the FEDERAL ENVIRONMENT OFFICE “The Land consumption for settlements and traffic has many effects on our environment, especially through soil sealing. The land area used for traffic is constantly increasing. In 1992, traffic covered 16,441 square kilometers (km²) or 4.61% of Germany’s total land area. In 2020, it was 18,076 km² or 5.5 %.” Since the take-up of these lands for transportation has been reduced, the government’s strategy is aimed at increasing the use of bicycles and trains for long distances.
Nonetheless, for the experts, there are three ways to reduce greenhouse gases in transport, which can be summarized under the headings of avoid, shift and improve. The avoidance of journeys in passenger vehicles allows the transformation of cities and regions (“City of short distances”) or via the replacement of work and business trips by implementing virtual working, to name a few.
As mentioned above, the registration of hybrid and electric vehicles is on the rise, and the battle of who produces more greenhouse gases, whether electric or regular vehicles, may have an end. The average medium size family car will generate around 24 tonnes of CO2 during its life cycle, while an electric vehicle (EV) will produce around 18 tonnes over its lifetime. For a battery EV, 46% of its total carbon footprint is generated at the factory, before it has been driven a single kilometer. A study conducted by Fraunhofer ISI on the carbon footprint of electric cars comes to the conclusion that electric cars produce “up to 28% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a top-range diesel; up to 42% fewer than a small gasoline car.”
If that wasn’t enough, “to buy and use a battery-powered electric car in Germany today emits much less CO2 and other greenhouse gases over an average useful life of 13 years than a car with a conventional internal combustion engine”. The study “The current greenhouse gas emissions balance of electric vehicles in Germany”* also argues that some of the actions that can further reduce the carbon footprint of electric vehicles include: 1. Charging at home using self-produced solar power, 2. Using green electricity from additional renewable sources, 3. Using renewable energies when producing batteries, 4. Smart load management.
Today we are talking about 687,241 electric vehicles and 622,971 hybrid vehicles on the road in Germany. And as can be seen in diagram 4, the first year of the pandemic was a year of transition for many to this type of transport. According to the KBA, 28,815 full-battery vehicles (BEVs) and 23,712 plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) were registered in July 2022. In view of the fact that the EU wants to ban all new gasoline and diesel cars in 13 years at the latest, the current target of the Traffic Light Coalition is: 15 million electric cars in Germany by 2030.
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Germany Country Manager Maria Schuster