Car recall fears after Volkswagen admit to rigging emission tests
A huge number of cars on European roads could be recalled as a probe into rigged emissions tests on Volkswagen models in the US threatens to reach Europe, according to a transport lobby group.
Volkswagen has admitted that 11 million vehicles worldwide are fitted with software to cheat emissions tests and taken a 6.5 billion euros profit hit to deal with the growing scandal.
The German car maker is facing deepening scrutiny after tests by US regulators forced it to admit cheating on the tests for nearly 500,000 vehicles, and authorities across the world launched further probes.
Volkswagen admitted the outcome of the investigations could add to the hit to its profits.
It said it was "working at full speed to clarify irregularities concerning a particular software used in diesel engines".
VW said it had found "discrepancies... involving some 11 million vehicles worldwide".
The German car maker apologised after America's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found the company had cheated clean-air rules before ordering it to recall nearly half a million diesel models built in the last seven years.
The US government announced it was widening the investigation to other manufacturers, while the European Commission (EC) has contacted VW and US authorities over the findings.
Campaign group Transport & Environment (T&E) claimed the technology used in the VW cars, in the form of devices that allowed its diesel cars to release fewer smog-causing pollutants during tests than in real-world driving conditions, was used by other car makers.
T&E's diesel expert Jos Dings said: "All the evidence points to exactly the same thing going on in Europe and potentially even worse.
"Diesel cars in Europe operate with worse technology on average than the US.
"We are the diesel market but they have dug it up because they take law enforcement seriously."
Mr Dings warned that millions of cars could be recalled.
"We are calling for European authorities to take their job seriously," he added.
"We sell more than 12 million cars in Europe and half are diesel.
"Our latest report demonstrated that almost 90% of diesel vehicles didn't meet emission limits when they drive on the road. We are talking millions of vehicles."
The EPA's findings cover 482,000 cars including the VW-manufactured Audi A3, and the brand's own Jetta, Beetle, Golf and Passat models.
The agency said cars had been fitted with sophisticated software to switch engines to a cleaner mode when they are undergoing official emissions testing. The system is known as a "defeat device".
Once on the road, the cars produced nitrogen oxide pollutants at up to 40 times the legal standard.