Berlin - It would appear that German car buyers are indeed shying away from diesel cars following a recent court decision that allows cities to ban diesel-powered vehicles.

On Wednesday, German motor industry association VDA reported that of the 878 600 vehicles sold in Germany in the first quarter of 2018, less than a third (32.3 percent) were diesel cars, versus 42.7 per cent during the same period last year.

In many German cities, nitric oxide air pollution is higher than that permitted by EU regulation, in large part due to diesel exhaust fumes in congested areas.

A court in Leipzig ruled in February that cities with high pollution can ban diesel cars from circulation. No city has yet introduced such a ban.

That decision was a further blow to the reputation of diesel cars after the revelations that German carmaker Volkswagen installed software in its diesel-fuelled vehicles that cheated on emissions tests.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who recently formed a new grand coalition for her fourth term in office, has said she will work to prevent diesel bans.

However, should sales continue to slide in key European markets such as Germany, it would certainly lead to car companies developing less diesel engines.