GENEVA (AP) — German domestic auto sales grew by 17 percent in the first two months of the year, the country's auto industry said Tuesday.
Some 449,400 new vehicles were registered in Germany in January and February, according to industry group VDA.
VDA chief Matthias Wissmann said the figures were a further sign the German economy is picking up this year.
''If this continues, then we're out of the trough,'' Wissmann told journalists on the sidelines of the Geneva Auto Show.
Domestically, 2007 was the worst year for sales for the industry since German reunification in 1991.
Wissmann noted that the strengthening of the euro was a concern for Germany's auto industry, which generates a sizable chunk of its income from exports outside the 27-nation European Union.
According to the VDA figures, foreign sales rose by 2 percent to 765,300 vehicles since the start of the year.
''We're battling a head wind,'' Wissmann said, adding that his group hoped the euro would level off during the course of the year.
Also of concern for the industry are efforts to impose stricter emissions limits on new vehicles. German car makers this week spoke out strongly against a European Union proposal to limit average carbon emissions to 130 grams per kilometer, arguing that they are already responding adequately to consumer demands for more efficient vehicles.
Wissmann slammed a decision by London mayor Ken Livingstone last year to raise the city's daily 'congestion charge' to 25 pounds ($49) for cars that produce more than 225 grams of CO2 per kilometer from the current charge of 8 pounds ($16).
''That's social envy speaking and has nothing to do with environmental policy,'' he said.