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German car market surges as manufacturers face emissions crunch

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

[FRANKFURT] Registrations of new cars on German roads leaped 25 per cent 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 per cent of new registrations.

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

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

Despite the diesel scandal, Volkswagen-brand cars accounted for one in five sales in Germany this year, adding 15.4 per cent 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 per cent growth compared with shrinking sales for rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

AFP