German car market surges as manufacturers face emissions crunch

One in every five new cars sold in Germany is a Volkswagen. (AFP pic) 

FRANKFURT: Registrations of new cars on German roads leaped 25% in August, official data showed Tuesday, ahead of the introduction of new stricter EU emissions tests that will shut out some older models.

Some 316,405 cars were registered last month, up from 253,680 in August 2017, the KBA transport authority said in a statement.

Industry observers point to the September introduction of the so-called “WLTP” emissions testing standard in the EU as a factor pushing carmakers to offer deep discounts or register vehicles to local sellers in August.

The popularity of diesel cars – whose manipulation to appear less polluting by Volkswagen and other firms prompted the push for WLTP – remains squeezed in Germany, with the fuel accounting for 32.6% of new registrations.

But the main beneficiary of drivers’ flight from diesel has been the petrol engine, with a 62.1% market share in August.

Alternatives to traditional combustion engines paled in comparison, with hybrids accounting for 4% of sales, all-electric just 0.8% and natural gas 0.4%.

Despite the diesel scandal, Volkswagen-brand cars accounted for one in five sales in Germany this year, adding 15.4% between January and August compared with the same period in 2017 to top 491,000 units.

The VW group’s high-end subsidiary Audi has enjoyed 6.4% growth compared with shrinking sales for rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz.