BERLIN (Reuters) - New diesel cars do not produce less of the environmentally damaging carbon dioxide than petrol cars, a group of newspapers cited the German Transport Ministry as saying on Wednesday, in a potential further headache for the auto sector.
The car industry is Germany's biggest exporter and employs more than 800,000 people. It was plunged into crisis two years ago when Volkswagen <VOWG_p.DE> admitted to cheating U.S. diesel emissions tests.
The Funke group of newspapers cited an answer from the Transport Ministry to an enquiry from the opposition Greens as saying diesel cars registered in 2016 emitted 128 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometre on average compared with 129 grams from new petrol cars.
The emissions difference has been similar for ten years but the amount of CO2 has fallen, it said, adding that one reason the carbon dioxide values were almost identical was because diesel cars were huseavier and had higher power.
The Transport Ministry did not immediately respond when contacted by Reuters.
"It's a myth that diesel helps protect the climate," Stephan Kuehn, transport expert for the Greens in Germany's lower house of parliament, told the Funke newspapers.
"Diesel motors squander the theoretical advantages they could bring for the environment by often being built into heavy, high-powered cars," he added.
(Reporting by Rene Wagner; Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)