Germany's environment minister, Sigmar Gabriel, has said the country would scrap its biofuels blending strategy because many cars on German roads cannot cope with the fuel.

Germany was aiming for all petrol to contain a blend of 10% ethanol (E10), up from 5% now, but there has been pressure from motoring organisations saying that the fuel was more corrosive than ordinary petrol and could wear out engine parts more quickly.

The automotive industry had been supportive of the E10 strategy, as a way of helping reduce CO2 emissions. The industry's association, the Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA), had said that around 360,000 cars on the road were unsuitable for the fuel, but Gabriel said on Friday that the figure was more than 3m.

"Our environmental policy does not want to be responsible for making millions of drivers of old cars, who often do not earn so much money, drive to expensive Super Plus petrol pumps," Gabriel told a television channel. The Super Plus fuel costs around EUR0.15 more than regular petrol with 5% ethanol.

According to Gabriel, the decision is final and there will be no debate about retrofitting cars so that they can tolerate the fuel. He said he was influenced by testimony from import brands that put the number of cars that would be damaged by the fuel at more than 3m.

Germany's policy had also been criticised by environmentalists, fearful that biofuels can sometimes produce more CO2 than regular petrol, depending on where they come from.