What's the best deal on highways

Rest areas: Motorists are annoyed by high prices

Status: 08/17/2020 8:49 a.m.

The motorways in Germany are more than 13,000 kilometers long and there is no general speed limit. But at the latest when the tank is empty or the stomach growls, the great freedom comes to an end. Consumers usually pay significantly more directly on the motorway than at petrol stations or in urban supermarkets. Why is that? And what about the hygiene of free and paid motorway toilets?

16 cents more per liter of gasoline on the motorway

The fact that petrol and diesel are more expensive on the motorway than at a local petrol station is nothing new, but the price difference has been increasing rapidly for years. In 2015, the surcharge for fuel directly on the motorway was 6.5 cents per liter. In 2018 it was more than 16 cents more per liter of fuel.

In a sample, Markt compared three petrol stations near the A7:

  • Right on the motorway at the Service area "Allertal West" (A7 between Hamburg and Hanover) 1 liter of super costs 1.689 euros, diesel 1.519 euros. One exit further you pay on one Truck stop 16 cents less per liter of super and even 18 cents less per liter of diesel. Amazing: Both petrol stations are operated by Aral.
  • It is even cheaper a few hundred meters further on one Petrol station in town. Here, drivers save 27 cents per liter on the Super and 36 cents per liter on the diesel compared to the petrol station on the motorway.

Criticism of the high prices for gasoline and diesel

According to Gregor Kolbe from the Federal Consumer Association, the surcharges on the motorway can no longer be explained with arguments such as "one was open around the clock". According to its own statements, Aral had to bid for the marketing rights to the autobahn in part for high sums: In order to be able to operate the locations on the autobahn economically, an adjustment of the prices is necessary.

Save money when refueling

  • Inform beforehand: Anyone planning a trip on the motorway should find out beforehand about cheaper alternatives on the route, such as gas stations in nearby towns.
  • Use fuel-saving apps: They obtain their information from the market transparency office of the Federal Cartel Office and make it possible to compare fuel prices nationwide and to find cheap alternatives nearby.
  • Dodge to truck stops: They are no more than a kilometer away from a junction, are also open 24 hours a day and are usually well below the price level of petrol stations and rest stops directly on the motorway.
  • Refuel at the right time: According to ADAC, consumers pay up to three cents per liter less for fuel between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. and between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. In the morning between 6 and 9 a.m. you should avoid refueling: A liter of diesel costs up to five cents, a liter of gasoline even up to 6 cents more than the daily average.
  • Take advantage of bonus systems: ADAC members save one cent / l at Shell, Agip and Star on presentation of the ADAC club card. Owners of Payback cards can collect points at Aral, with the Deutschlandcard you collect points at Esso - in return, however, the purchasing behavior of the customers is evaluated.

Poor hygiene in free toilet facilities

If you have to go to the toilet on the motorway, you have the choice:

  • free toilets in so-called unmanaged parking lots
  • paid toilets from the provider Sanifair: Going to the toilet usually costs 70 cents. The toilets clean themselves after each use, and staff also monitor the hygiene of the sanitary facilities.

In a sample, the market has the hygiene of the systems and have a total of 40 samples of toilet seats, door handles and water buttons examined at two Sanifair locations and three unmanaged parking spaces with toilets in the Institute for Hygiene at the University Medical Center Hamburg Eppendorf.

The Result of the Laboratory examination:

  • All samples from Sanifair were inconspicuous.
  • The results of the unmanaged facilities on the other hand, alarming: intestinal bacteria were found in all samples of the toilet seat.

According to Professor Dr. Johannes Knobloch from the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf should above all immunocompromised people be careful: in his opinion, they should bacteria not from the skin in the thigh area into the respiratory tract reach. Hand hygiene is particularly important for this. In addition, women could easily relax in a toilet contaminated with intestinal bacteria Urinary tract infection capture.

Sanifair toilets: the business with vouchers

Drivers pay 70 cents to use Sanifair's paid toilets. For this they get one 50 cent voucherthat can be redeemed in a shop. In the sample it is noticeable that you often cannot buy a lot with the vouchers and sometimes nothing at all. The yield:

  • There are two tokens at one location three chewing gum.
  • In the shop of the helmstedt service station on the A2 there is not a single article for 50 cents. And a 0.75 liter bottle of Gerolsteiner mineral water for 3.19 euros is much more expensive after deducting the 50 cent voucher than in the nearest supermarket (69 cents at Rewe).

tip: Anyone who frequently drives on the autobahn and receives Sanifair vouchers there should collect them in the car. It is possible to redeem several vouchers at once. However, they lose their validity after three years.

A lack of competition is the reason for high prices

According to many experts, the main reason for the high surcharges on the motorway is the lack of competition: Almost all petrol stations and rest stops directly on the motorway belong to the company Tank and rest based in Bonn. The company thus has a virtual monopoly with more than 400 locations in Germany. The system works like this:

  • Tank und Rast does not operate the majority of the rest stops themselves. They are usually operated by so-called Franchise partners led, which in turn pay taxes to the tank and rest.
  • The rights to be allowed to sell fuel at the locations of Tank and Rast will in part become the highest bidder Oil companies auctioned.

It's no secret that monopolies tend to let prices skyrocket, says social scientist Professor Tim Engartner.

Foreign investors earn, the federal government makes losses

Tank and Rast used to be a state-owned company. In 1998 it was privatized for 1.25 billion Deutschmarks. Since then, the so-called secondary operations of the German autobahns have become the plaything of changing investors. Most recently, the company was sold to the new owners for more than five times - a consortium of investors

  • two insurance companies
  • a pension fund from Canada
  • a Chinese sovereign wealth fund
  • the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund.

Social scientist Engartner criticizes the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund on the back of the motorist made profits in Germany and not the Federal Republic of Germany earned at the service stations.

In addition, the federal government makes one every year on the edge of the autobahn Loss in the high tens of millions. Although he receives an annual concession fee from the service station operators, i.e. also from Tank and Rast, this by no means covers the expenses for the construction and maintenance of the rest areas and parking lots.

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Market | 08/17/2020 | 8:15 pm