Germans are not rushing to buy smaller cars despite near-record fuel prices, Bernd Gottschalk, chairman of the VDA German car industry association, told an industry conference on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

German car makers have boosted their share of the domestic market – Europe’s largest – for both corporate and retail customers this year, but not by seizing a bigger proportion of the market for minicars and subcompacts, he said.

Instead, German manufacturers have won 77% of the compact market segment, the report added.

“Thus you cannot speak of a general trend to ‘downsizing’ of the car fleet,” he reportedly said at the Handelsblatt conference. “The customer is instead honouring innovation and attractive new models across the model mix.”

Reuters noted that the VDA has forecast new car registrations in Germany will hold roughly steady at some 3.3 million units this year despite a sharp rise in fuel prices that made motorists pay €4 billion ($US4.9 billion) more at the pump in the first eight months of this year than they paid in the year-earlier period.

Noting that car registrations rose 12% in August, Gottschalk reportedly said that high fuel prices had not automatically prompted German consumers to put off buying new cars, but instead made them trade in for more fuel-efficient models.