German manufacturers have increased their market share in Germany thanks to sales of environmentally-friendly vehicles.

A dpa-AFX report quoting the German automotive industry trade association, Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA), said German OEMs sold 5% more cars that emit less than 140g/km CO2, compared to a year ago.

Total sales of these cars fell 6%, less than the overall market which slowed 13% as a result of the introduction of a new higher rate of VAT.

VDA president Bernd Gottschalk said that almost one in two new cars emitting less than 140g/km CO2 is German.

The VDA said that customers are mindful of the fact that German OEMs offer a range of efficient clean diesel cars, which emit less CO2 than hybrid cars, particularly from Asian manufacturers.

The news will be particularly welcome to BMW sales chief, Michael Ganal, who said at the Geneva motor show that a big decline in car sales in the first two months of the year could be attributed to uncertainty related to the CO2 debate, which is raging in Germany.

"A 20% fall in the total market in the first two months is perhaps not just attributable to the increase in VAT," said Ganal. "It could also be the CO2 debate."