German car sales spike as ‘dieselgate’ effect fades

German car sales enjoyed a strong surge in September, official data showed Wednesday, although the rise was largely attributable to a statistical effect that had weighed on registrations in late 2018.

German car sales spike as 'dieselgate' effect fades
A traffic jam near Munich in July. Photo: DPA

Last month, a total 244,622 vehicles hit the roads, 22.2 percent more than
in September 2018, the KBA transport authority said in a statement.

Growth has been more modest over the year to date, adding 2.5 percent to reach 2.74 million vehicles between January and September.

Over that period, “a higher figure was last achieved in the year 2009,” the VDA industry federation commented in a statement.

The German data therefore mark a bright spot in an industry battling falling demand worldwide.

Dieselgate woes

Last year in September, German sales had been hit when the European Union
introduced new air pollution tests known as WLTP in response to the “dieselgate” emissions cheating scandal.

READ ALSO: Five things to know about Germany's dieselgate scandal

Some manufacturers encountered bottlenecks in the certification process,
squeezing sales in the autumn months.

The registrations in September 2018 “showed an unusually low level due to
the transition to the WLTP test procedure,” the VDA confirmed.

Looking to different manufacturers, giant Volkswagen has so far this year
accounted for 18.2 percent of the German market with sales of almost 500,000

Among the high-end carmakers, BMW booked a 7.4-percent share with sales of
202,500 vehicles, while Mercedes-Benz reached 9.1 percent at almost 250,000
cars and VW subsidiary Audi's market share was 7.8 percent with 214,000.

The dieselgate scandal continues to cast a long shadow, with the share of new cars powered by the fuel just below 30 percent in September.

Petrol cars accounted for almost 60 percent, while electrics reached 2.4 percent and hybrids 7.7 percent.

READ ALSO: Frankfurt car show faces protests over SUVs and climate woes

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Sweden’s new right-wing govt slashes development aid

Sweden, one of the world's biggest international donors, is planning drastic aid cuts in the coming years, the country's new right-wing government said in its budget bill presented on Tuesday.

Sweden's new right-wing govt slashes development aid

Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson’s government said it planned to reduce the country’s international aid by 7.3 billion kronor ($673 million) in 2023, and by another 2.2 billion kronor in 2024.

That is around a 15-percent reduction from what had been planned by the previous left-wing government and means Sweden will abandon its foreign aid target of 1 percent of gross national income.

International aid for refugees will be capped at a maximum of eight percent of its aid, and will also be reduced.

According to the specialised site Donor Tracker, Sweden was the world’s eighth-biggest international aid donor in terms of absolute value last year, and the third-biggest in proportion to the size of its economy, donating 0.92 percent of its gross national income, behind Luxembourg and Norway.

The new government, which is backed for the first time by the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, had announced in its government programme last month that it would be cutting foreign aid.

Since 1975, Stockholm has gone further than the UN’s recommendation of donating at least 0.7 percent of its wealth to development aid.

Despite its growth forecast being revised downwards — the economy is expected to shrink by 0.4 percent next year and grow by 2 percent in 2024 — the 2023 budget forecasts a surplus of 0.7 percent of gross domestic product.

It calls for an additional 40 billion kronor in spending, with rising envelopes for crime fighting and the building of new nuclear reactors, as well as a reduction in taxes on petrol and an increase in the defence budget.

The new government is a minority coalition made up of Kristersson’s conservative Moderates, the Christian Democrats and the Liberal party, backed in parliament by their key ally the Sweden Democrats to give them a majority.