Matthias Wissmann, the German motor industry association's new president, has said the sector should be more open to environmental developments. At the same time he has offered reassurance that the industry will develop more fuel-efficient cars.

In Germany the automotive industry has garnered the reputation of being a 'climate killer'. Willsman, now heading the Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA), said the industry should cease viewing the environmental debate as a matter of ideology and enter into a serious dialogue about how it can work for the environment. He spoke to the German press agency (DPA) in Frankfurt at the weekend.

Wissmann is hoping that this year's Frankfurt motor show (IAA) in September will kick-start further developments in fuel efficient technologies such as hybrids and help improve the industry's image. He hopes manufacturers will give clear details of when they will bring hybrid technologies to market.

"The manufacturers know what they have to do with respect to hybrids," said Wissmann.

However he stressed that the industry will not focus on one particular type of powertrain. "It would not be environmentally sound to idealise hybrid technology," said Wissmann. Diesel and biofuel technologies are equally important, for example.

Wissmann said there is no turning back now from more environmentally-friendly cars. That's why the industry must take car lovers with it. "A car is always also about emotion. That is perhaps where mistakes have been made in the past, by offering 'eco' cars. These cars addressed the environmental demand but not the emotion," said Wissmann.

"A car must be sexy as well as environmentally-friendly, then it will be sold."