Frankfurt: Sales of new cars in Germany fell in January, official data showed on Monday, at a moment when the vital industry stands at the focus of overlapping political conflicts.
The KBA transport authority said it licensed 265,702 vehicles last month, a fall of 1.4 per cent year-on-year.
Since a massive slump in September following the introduction of new EU-wide emissions tests, car sales in Germany have yet to regain levels seen a year ago.
Beyond the braking effect of the new tests, known as WLTP, fallout from the "dieselgate" emissions cheating scandal that prompted their introduction shows up in the sales breakdown.
At 34.5 per cent of new cars registered, diesels were far below the share of roughly half of sales they booked in January 2016 — months after giant manufacturer Volkswagen admitted to manipulating millions of motors worldwide.
But the market share for cars powered by the fuel had grown by 2.1 percentage points compared with a year ago.
Public debate over emissions policy has flared up again in early 2019, dominating media headlines for weeks.
Lung doctors and right-of-centre politicians have called into question EU limits on harmful nitrogen oxides and fine particles.
The thresholds have served as legal justification for implemented or planned exclusion zones for older diesels in cities like Hamburg, Berlin, Stuttgart and Frankfurt.
Meanwhile an expert commission's proposal to reduce output of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) with a nationwide speed limit on Germany's world-famous autobahn (motorway) has met with massive resistance.
Germany is one of the only countries in the world without a legally-mandated top speed across its entire road network.
Looking to different Germany-based manufacturers, only Daimler subsidiary Smart, BMW-owned Mini and Volkswagen's Audi were able to lift sales in January.
Meanwhile sales fell for VW's own-brand vehicles and luxury subsidiary Porsche, as well as for high-end Mercedes and BMW and Peugeot-owned Opel.
In the shadow of the diesel emissions debate, sales of electric cars jumped 68.2 per cent and hybrids 66.4 per cent.
At 4,648 all-electric cars and 15,171 hybrids, the less-polluting models still accounted for only a fraction of the total market.