The term de minimis is derived from a legal principle that prevailed in ancient Rome, “de minimis non curat lex” – in English: The law does not concern itself with trifles. European subsidy law defines de minimis grants as subsidies that are “of barely any significance” for the competitive environment. Where, however, the de minimis limit is set can, in fact, be of huge relevance for individual transport companies. Anyone who is making investments in additional road safety and environmental protection can expect to receive subsidies from the federal government again in 2018. The upper “de minimis” limit for companies in the road transport sector still adds up to €100,000 over three fiscal years. This means that a truck needs spend a lot of time on the road.


Funding for Companies of Any Size.

The cash benefits that are granted for capital expenditure are not just reserved for major fleets. All companies that operate in the road haulage sector and maintain, or own, at least one heavy duty commercial vehicle with a curb weight (without trailer) of at least 7.5 metric tons are eligible for funding. Vehicle-related, personnel-related and efficiency-related measures can all receive funding. However, measures that have already been legally mandated, such as the purchase of digital tachographs, form exceptions to this.


All Sorts of Investments Eligible for Subsidies.

The catalog listing the investments that are eligible for grants is actually quite comprehensive. The vehicle-related measures include the purchase, rental and leasing of driver assistance or particulate reduction systems, hardware or software for digital EU recording devices, the ergonomic design of driver workplaces, additional safety equipment in the vehicle (e.g. axle load measuring instruments, camera systems for maneuvering when reversing) and aids for optimally securing cargo. Expenditure for the use of secure car parks that are subject to fees has also been covered in Germany since 2018.

The personnel-related measures include all expenditure for safety equipment and workwear for the drivers and loading personnel, or for schedulers.

The purchase, rental and leasing of telematics systems, software for the display, evaluation and archiving of data from a digital tachograph, as well as corporate consultations on environmental and security-related topics for management, are also considered efficiency-related measures, along with IT-based connections to communication platforms, and environmental and safety certifications.


Bad News for Winter Tires.

One item of bad news, in contrast, is the revision of the winter tire regulations for de minimis subsidies. In 2018, the three-peak mountain pictogram featuring a snow flake in the middle became obligatory for all winter tires that were manufactured after January 1, 2018. The previous M+S symbol will no longer be sufficient for newly produced winter tires. This regulation means that winter and all-season tires with a mountain pictogram and snowflake system are legally required, and therefore no longer eligible for full subsidies.


€33,000 Per Year Can be Claimed.

Nonetheless, some not-inconsiderable funding remains available. The maximum amount is calculated on the basis of the funding rate for each heavy duty commercial vehicle of up to €2,000, multiplied by the number of heavy-duty commercial vehicles registered. However, the following limits need to be observed: The grant may only amount to a maximum of 80 percent of the expenses covered, and the annual grant is limited to an absolute maximum funding of €33,000 per year. Only those measures that are implemented within five months of receipt of the confirmation of the grant are considered eligible for funding.


Straightforward Online Application.

Anyone who wishes to benefit from the funds available in the future will need to submit their application to the Federal Office for Goods Transport by October 1, 2018. The Federal Office provides the option of completing the entire application and payment procedure on its eService portal ( Up to five applications – an initial application and four follow-up applications – can be submitted. The data provided in the initial application, along with any supporting documents enclosed relating to the heavy duty commercial vehicles, are used as a basis for calculation of the maximum company-specific level of funding. Those submitting multiple applications have a right to choose between the maximum incentive available as funding, or a lesser sum. If the latter is chosen, the applicant can then reserve any additional grants for follow-up applications until the maximum potential level of funding has been exhausted.


An Easy Way to Get Digital Fleet Management Moving.

Transport companies that wish to introduce digital fleet management are likely to find the first step easier with the de minimis subsidies. Regardless of how large the fleet is – VDO offers a wide range of hardware and software for collecting, evaluating and visualizing DTCO® data, and which is also eligible for funding. You can find the full range of offers under