Trucks with H plates / restoration and care are hard work
The number of commercial vehicles with H plates (“H” for “historic” vehicles) in Germany has grown markedly over recent years. On January 1, 2015, a total of 24,067 classic commercial vehicles were registered. This represents growth of 15 percent over the previous year, and the rise since 2010 exceeds 70 percent. “This increase is as welcome as it is amazing, because the restoration and maintenance of classic commercial vehicles are very costly and take a great deal of hard work. Furthermore, driving them is less convenient because they are generally slow and relatively loud, and have a high fuel consumption. So most of the people who own historic commercial vehicles are genuine enthusiasts – they are maintaining a special, rare piece of our technical cultural heritage,” said Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA).
The 24,067 registered commercial vehicles with H plates include 13,593 trucks, 10,062 tractors and 412 omnibuses. They account for a tiny 0.5 percent of all commercial vehicles – that total over 4.9 million. Historic commercial vehicles also constitute a small fraction in comparison with classic passenger cars. The number of passenger cars with H plates comes to 310,694, which is more than ten times as many as the classic commercial vehicles.
The Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) regularly compiles a detailed evaluation of vehicles with H plates on behalf of the VDA. The vehicles must be at least 30 years old, in perfect working order and in their original state to qualify for H plates. Some special exemptions apply solely to these vehicles, for example they are not banned from entering environmental zones.