The new president of the Verband der Deutschen Automobilindustrie, VDA, Matthias Wissmann has called for a new CO2-based vehicle taxation system to be introduced in Germany as quickly as possible.

Setting a tone that is different from that of his predecessor, Wissmann called for the needs of transport and the environment to be harmonized as quickly as possible. According to Automobilwoche, Wissmann said that the industry must work quickly towards the vision of a zero emissions vehicle.

The former VDA president, Bernd Gottschalk, had a much more conservative approach, trying to maintain the status quo and fighting any attempts to limit vehicle emissions. He also apparently failed to stand up for the efforts that vehicle manufacturers have made towards lowering emissions, leaving German consumers with the impression that the German OEMs have done little or nothing to reduce CO2.

Wissmann is positively welcoming a new taxation system and fully expects that low emission vehicles (using less than three litres of fuel per 100km driven), should be heavily incentivised, possibly paying no tax at all.

The new vehicle tax is currently in the hands of Wolfgang Tiefensee, Germany's transport minister. He is planning to change the current tax system based on engine capacity to one that also takes into account CO2 and other emissions. The stumbling block at present is how the national and regional (Land) governments will agree to administer the system, and divide the revenues. Some want the new tax only to apply to new vehicles, but others think that it will only have an effect if it applies to new and existing vehicles.

The lack of clarity on the future tax CO2-based tax system is considered to be contributing to the weak consumer confidence in the German car market at the moment.

Wissmann also called for investment in traffic management systems as a way of reducing CO2. He said that Germany has the technology to develop and even export expertise in this area.