Diesel gets cold shoulder as German car sales rise



Sales of new cars in Germany rose in August, official figures showed Monday, but uncertainty over the future of diesel saw registrations of vehicles powered by the fuel continue to slide.

The total number of new registrations on German roads rose by 3.5 percent compared with the same month in 2016, the federal transport authority KBA reported, reaching almost 254,000 vehicles.

That was faster than growth of 1.5 percent in July.

Registrations of diesel cars fell by almost 14 percent year-on-year last month.

Prospective buyers in Europe's largest economy have been spooked by politicians' response to mass cheating on regulatory emissions tests to conceal excessive levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx).

Some cities are mooting bans on heavily polluting vehicles at certain times to tackle the resulting air pollution.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was "working to prevent driving bans" as a gathering of mayors of badly affected cities and towns got underway Monday.

Over the year from January to August, only around 40.9 percent of new cars registered were diesel-powered, the VDA auto industry federation said, down from 46.7 percent over the same period last year.

Looking at the different brands, Volkswagen -- at the heart of the diesel scandal -- was the largest single carmaker by registrations, with 43,500 or 17.2 percent of the total.

Nevertheless, its sales were down 10.9 percent year-on-year in August.

VW's sales have suffered since it admitted in 2015 to manipulating 11 million cars worldwide to fool regulators.

Sales at other big-name brands were on the rise, with BMW adding 6.7 percent and Mercedes-Benz 7.5 percent compared with August 2016.

Luxury rival and Volkswagen subsidiary Audi lagged behind, increasing sales by just 0.9 percent.

Germans' wariness of diesel has translated into more interest in alternative power sources, with sales of hybrid cars adding 76 percent year-on-year and all-electric cars 143 percent.

But the absolute numbers remained small, at just under 7,000 hybrids and 2,200 electric vehicles.