Though every second new car registered in western Europe in 2001 was made by a German company, Germans bought fewer cars, the VDA association of car makers said, according to Reuters.

Car makers exported six percent more than the previous year, shipping 3.6 million cars, Reuters added.

German market car registrations fell one percent and the VDA told Reuters it could see no upturn in 2002, although some recovery was possible in the second half of the year should the German economy pick up.

New car orders in Germany fell five percent, Reuters said, while demand from export markets rose eight percent.

Demand for diesel engines in particular increased and, with 46.5 percent market share, practically every second car registered in western Europe came from a German firm, Reuters said.