Germany plans to charge foreigners to drive on Autobahn freeways

Germany will start charging foreign drivers 10 euros, or about $13, to drive on Germany's autobahns for ten day permits. For a one-day permit, Germany will charge 100 euros to go on the Autobahn freeways.

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    People walk on the Autobahn in Essen, western Germany, to celebrate "Still-Life" on July 18, 2010. Germany will start charging foreign chargers 10 euros, or about $13, to drive on Germany's autobahns for ten day permits.
    Martin Meissner/AP/File
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Germany has long been an essential place to visit for speed freaks all over the world, and not just those willing to take on the infamous Nürburgring Nordschleife race circuit. No, Germany's Autobahn freeways are popular too—as certain sections remain some of the few unrestricted routes in the world.

That's likely to remain so for some time, despite pressure from green lobbies. But if you're visiting from abroad, they're set to become more expensive—as the country plans to charge foreign motorists for their use. According to the country's transport minister Alexander Dobrindt (via CTV News), the plan will help pay for the country's infrastructure.

The cost, at least initially, won't be too prohibitive. For ten days on the country's autobahns, foreign drivers will be expected to pay 10 euros—about $13 at current exchange rates. This will rise to 20 euros for a two-month permit and 100 euros for a year. That's likely to be an entry-level price though, as the cost of a one-year permit will escalate depending on the vehicle's engine size, age and emissions. German motorists will also pay, but see equivalent reductions in their annual vehicle tax bills.

Given Germany's borders with other countries, the road-charging scheme seems mainly aimed at recouping infrastructure costs from those who use the roads frequently, but live and pay taxes in neighboring countries. Dobrindt says foreign drivers make 170 million trips to or through Germany each year, yet don't pay for upkeep of the road network. Despite protestations from neighboring countries like Austria and the Netherlands, Dobrindt says it will help contribute 2.5 billion euros ($3.4 billion) to Germany's economy every year.

But For those visiting briefly from elsewhere—and getting their kicks on the de-restricted sections—it should be no more than a marginal cost increase to the average gearhead's speed-themed trip to Germany...

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