Transport minister Manfred Stolpe said he had cancelled the contract with a consortium of top companies, called Toll Collect, because of costly delays. The setback could cost the state up to 8.3bn euros in lost revenue and Stolpe said the debacle was damaging to Germany's image and a blow to innovation. The consortium had hoped the system would help it win big export contracts.
'Discussions will not be possible without substantial improvements,' Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder warned the consortium, formed by car manufacturer DaimlerChrysler, phone giant Deutsche Telekom and French toll road operator Cofiroute.
Legal action is now expected as the federal authorities try to recoup the huge sum lost to the public transport budget.
Stolpe said he would now have to reintroduce an earlier system, in which lorry drivers buy stickers to put in their windscreens to pay for their use of autobahns.
Last year, traffic management software company Road Tech claimed the German motorway toll system could be beaten by a sandwich (Fleet News Europe, August 21, 2003).
Company boss Derek Beevor said the 'over-complicated' system would have forced vehicles, in particular trucks, to fit on-board telematics units if they wanted to automatically pay the tolls.
The on-board units (OBU), which would have included a GPS system, could have been blocked by a sandwich wrapped in aluminium foil. The GPS system would have been blinded, unable to say how far the truck had travelled and unable to send a bill, Beevor said.