Studies by Transport & Environment (T&E), ICCT and the Fraunhofer Institute show that plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHVs) emit up to eight times more CO2 on the road than official declared values. The difference is explained by the fact that their hybrid technology was designed primarily to perform well on laboratory test beds. However, on the road, it is the heat engine that operates most of the time.

With the strong growth in the plug-in hybrid engine market, the difference between emissions measured in the laboratory and on the road in real conditions is becoming a growing problem: support for this type of vehicle through tax breaks or purchase premiums goes against the protection of the climate and the energy transition.

De facto fossil fuel subsidies

Since PHVs are not designed to run as much as possible on electricity, their fuel consumption is generally not lower than that of internal combustion cars. Subsidizing PHVs is therefore tantamount to subsidizing fossil fuels. The ATE Transport and Environment Association therefore asks the cantons to give up granting purchase premiums or tax rebates to plug-in hybrids.

Auto tax rebate

In many cantons, PHVs benefit from generous tax breaks on motor vehicles: four cantons grant a reduction to plug-in hybrids on the basis of their propulsion technology, while in nine others, CO2 emissions determine the amount. tax. These advantages offered to PHVs are unjustified, since their official CO2 values ​​do not correspond to their actual emissions.

Seven cantons give a discount to cars of efficiency category A, in which most PHVs fall, since their consumption values ​​are underestimated in the official measurement procedure.

Luxury car subsidies

In the canton of Geneva, cars with CO2 emissions of less than 121 g / km, according to the old NEDC measurement cycle, are exempt from half of the motor vehicle tax for two years. For example, a Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid (list price: 228,200 francs) benefits from a reduction of 1,464 francs for two years. This corresponds to a subsidy of 2’928 francs for a luxury model which, with 122 g of CO2 / km (WLTP), moreover quite officially misses the target value of CO2 for new cars (95 g according to NEDC or 118 g according to WLTP).

The Volvo XC60, tested by Transport & Environment, benefits from a tax rebate of 558 francs over three years in the canton of Zurich, on the basis of its classification in efficiency class A and its theoretically low CO2 emissions, with 64 g / km (WLTP). Zurich taxpayers are therefore subsidizing the purchase of this car to the tune of 1’674 francs for which T&E has measured emissions exceeding 100 g of CO2 / km, despite a full battery.

Purchase premiums in Valais

The canton of Valais does not grant a tax rebate, but by supporting plug-in hybrids with a subsidy of 2,500 francs, it is showing itself particularly vis-à-vis these pseudo-electric cars. The municipality of Hochdorf in the canton of Lucerne and the electricity company Romanshorn also offer purchase bonuses for plug-in hybrids.

Overview of motor vehicle tax rebates for plug-in hybrids

Townships with rebates for plug-in hybrids: JU, NW, OW, TI

Cantons with tax rebate / scale based on CO2 emissions: BL, BS, GE, GR, NE, SG, VD, TI, ZH

Cantons with discounts for vehicles of efficiency category A: BE, FR, GL, NW, SG, TG, ZH


Overview of cantonal motor vehicle tax reductions (Federal Office of Energy):

ATE press release on the T&E study: much-more-co2-than-on-the /

Volvo XC60:

ICCT study:

For any additional information:
Martin Winder, transport policy project manager, tel. 031 328 58 63


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