The time for EETS has finally come

Date: Thursday April 27, 2017

On the 13 April, DKV, T-Systems and Daimler announced the creation of Toll4Europe; Europe’s 8th official EETS provider. Toll4Europe is a new entity, jointly owned by one of the largest fuel card issuers, one of the largest toll operators and one of the largest car manufacturers on the continent. This potent mix of experience, skills and resources could quickly become a dominant player once services are launched in 2018 (for a full list of each provider’s coverage see our previous EETS blog).

As we detail in the graphic below, Toll4Europe joins a growing list of players developing EETS services. Simultaneously, DKV becomes the third fuel card issuer (FCI) – alongside Eurowag and Total – to provide tolling and EETS services directly, shunning the once textbook model of re-selling devices offered by experienced toll service providers such as Axxes and Telepass. This model is likely to continue to be used by some FCIs – Shell, for example seems happy with its existing arrangements as a re-seller – however it is also possible that the moves by DKV, Eurowag and Total will prompt other FCIs, particularly those active in the German market, to follow suit. Will we see the likes of UTA and OMV launching their own EETS service in the near future? I wouldn’t rule it out.

Of course whether FCIs choose to invest in and sell their own or that of a third party does not change the outcome, which is much higher volumes. Expect the number of EETS devices to rise dramatically over the next 12 – 18 months as Eurowag and Toll4Europe bring their products to market.

Concurrently, the European Parliament and European Commission (EC) have been making encouraging sounds regarding the legislative framework that underpins the EETS directive and its smaller cousin, the Eurovignette. As the number of countries mandating use of the Eurovignette for HGVs travelling across their roads has declined (only Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands still apply the charge), the EC is exploring alternatives. Following recent discussions in the European Parliament concerning the introduction of a passenger car vignette in Germany, MEPs published two resolutions:

“[The European Parliament] Encourages the Commission to include external costs from climate change and accidents, not covered by insurance, when proposing new legislation, such as the revision of the Eurovignette Directive; underlines, furthermore, that legislation on the internalisation of external costs must apply on all roads and exclude unfair competition between the different transport modes”

“[The European Parliament] Urges the Commission to consider the revision of the legislation and harmonised framework regarding the Eurovignette and the European Electronic Toll Service (EETS) as an opportunity to establish such a framework and to monitor and boost proper enforcement of this legislation”

Both of these statements will encourage the EC to revise the current Eurovignette legal framework and prompt the introduction of EETS in new domains. There have also been unsubstantiated reports in various publications stating that the EC has in fact already determined to scrap the Eurovignette directive in favour of a dynamic, distance based scheme.

Belgium recently withdrew from the scheme following the introduction of the distance based charging scheme Viapass in April 2016. Sweden is actively considering its own distance based HGV toll and Denmark came very close in 2013 before the scheme was withdrawn at the last minute. Commissioner Bulc has also long argued in favour of distance based tolling across Europe.

If the Eurovignette is replaced with a new distance based charge it would represent yet another boon for the EETS market, as any replacement would certainly be bound to abide by the EETS directive as well as lowering the weight class to a more harmonised level of 3.5t.

EETS has suffered a hard start to life, with many believing that the core “one contract, one device” goal behind the directive would never happen. Nonetheless, with the power of many leading FCIs behind it and the promise of access to Germany’s vast €4.6 billion tolling market it looks like the time for EETS has finally come.