BERLIN -- New diesel cars do not produce less of the environmentally damaging carbon dioxide than gasoline vehicles, a group of newspapers cited the German Transport Ministry as saying, in a potential further headache for the auto sector.
The automotive industry is Germany's biggest exporter and employs more than 800,000 people. It was plunged into crisis two years ago when Volkswagen admitted to cheating U.S. diesel emissions tests.
The Funke group of newspapers cited an answer from the Transport Ministry to an inquiry from the opposition Green party as saying diesel cars registered in 2016 emitted 128 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer on average compared with 129 g/km from new gasoline cars.
The emissions difference has been similar for ten years but the amount of CO2 has fallen, it said, adding that one reason the carbon dioxide values were almost identical was because diesel cars were heavier and had higher power.
The Transport Ministry did not immediately respond when contacted by Reuters.
"It's a myth that diesel helps protect the climate," Stephan Kuehn, transport expert for the Greens in Germany's lower house of parliament, told the Funke newspapers.
"Diesel engines squander the theoretical advantages they could bring for the environment by often being built into heavy, high-powered cars," he said.