BERLIN -- New-car registrations in Germany rose to the highest level in eight years in August despite plunging sales of diesel-powered vehicles.
Registrations increased 3.5 percent last month to 253,679 vehicles, the KBA motor transport authority said on Monday. Eight-month sales rose 2.9 percent to 2.32 million vehicles. Sales are being boosted by a buoyant economy and increased discounting.
Continued public discussion about possible bans of diesel vehicles by some large German cities hit diesel sales severely. August sales of new diesel models fell 14 percent to a share of 37.7 percent. Sales of gasoline cars jumped 15 percent to a share 58.4 percent.
Germany's August gain mirrors increases in other key European markets, with sales up 9.4 percent in France, 16 percent in Italy and 13 percent in Spain.
"Framework conditions in Germany and in other major European markets are favorable," said Peter Fuss, senior partner and automotive specialist at Ernst & Young's German practice, citing rising employment and wages as well as low interest rates. "There should be no significant changes to this positive environment until the end of the year," he said.
Fuss said private and commercial diesel customers will continue to avoid buying diesel cars, at least for as long as driving bans are not completely off the table.
VW sales fall
The Volkswagen and Ford brands were among losers in August sales. VW brand's volume fell 11 percent while Ford registrations were down 4.8 percent. Opel sales increased 13 percent.
Sales of luxury brands BMW and Mercedes-Benz were up 6.7 percent and 7.5 percent respectively, while Audi edged up by only 0.9 percent.
- Download PDF, above right, for German sales by brand for August and 8 months.