The open speed limits of Germany's autobahns means that the motorways are not just a rapid commuting system - they are very much a tourist attraction.
Few places in the world allow drivers to choose their own speed limit without the fear of a letter from the state's revenue office appearing in the mail several weeks later.
But for tourists travelling through Germany from within Europe, the autobahn experience and all other German roads will soon have a price attached.
The German government plans to charge a toll for vehicles crossing its borders with foreign number plates from 2016, and expects to raise around 2.5 billion euros (AU$3.62 billion) in revenue over four years.
Heavy vehicles already pay to use the autobahns, and almost every other country in the European Union along with Switzerland charges light vehicles a toll of some degree to use its motorways. Germany, however, is planning a toll for every road.
A ten-day pass ‘badge’ (usually a sticker) will be available for around 10 euros (AU$15), rising to 20 euros (AU$29) for two months and 100 euros (AU$145) for a year.
German-registered vehicles will also have to display a toll sticker, but the cost will be refunded pro-rata via a discount to registration fees.
And it’s this aspect of the plan that has other EU states up in arms, claiming a toll that effectively only targets foreign drivers is a violation of EU discrimination laws.
Neighbouring Austria charges any driver to use its motorways regardless of nationality, and has vowed to use every legal means possible to fight Germany’s toll plans.
The German people are understandably pleased, claiming an imbalance that sees them pay to use foreign roads while foreigners pay nothing to use German roads.
Tourists flying into Europe from 2016 and looking to avoid the minimum 10 euro fee will probably find all German rental cars equipped with the toll sticker when they pick them up.
Some images in this article from autobahn-online.de
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