(Recasts with latest comments from minister)
BERLIN, Oct 15 (Reuters) - German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said on Thursday higher taxes for diesel vehicles were not on the political agenda, hours after she had suggested Berlin should think about ending tax breaks on diesel cars and promoting electric ones.
“For me, higher taxes for diesel vehicles are not on the political agenda,” Hendricks said in a statement, adding that a “demonisation of the diesel technology” would be a wrong reaction to the Volkswagen emissions scandal.
Only a few hours earlier, Hendricks had suggested in a television interview that Berlin should think about ending tax breaks for diesel fuel and set more incentives for consumers to buy electric cars.
“That’s an idea we should consider,” Hendricks told broadcaster ZDF, adding the government could also increase taxes for cars with relatively high fuel usage.
Hendricks said in her later statement: “My comments on ZDF television’s morning programme... have led to misunderstanding.”
The French prime minister’s office said on Wednesday Paris was planning to reduce a tax break on diesel fuel.
Hendricks told ZDF Berlin was still aiming to get one million electric cars on German roads by 2020.
“But if we want to come closer to that goal, we really have to do something,” said Hendricks, a member of the Social Democrats (SPD), junior coalition partner to Chancellor Angela Merkel Christian Democrats (CDU).
Hendricks and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel have called for a binding quota for electric cars, with Hendricks also calling for a government subsidy for buying such vehicles.
Germany’s largest carmaker Volkswagen admitted last month it had installed software in diesel vehicles to deceive U.S. regulators about the true level of their toxic emissions, leading to a backlash against diesel motors. (Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Tom Heneghan and Mark Potter)