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There are now more than 11 million Volkswagen diesel cars -- and possibly 50,000 in Australia -- caught up in the software cheat that secretly tricked emissions testing equipment.
More than 50,000 Volkswagens in Australia are likely to be caught up in the global scandal involving 11 million diesel cars with software designed to cheat fuel economy and emissions tests.
Experts have told News Corp Australia that although local emissions laws are lower than those in the U.S. and Europe, the fact that some toxins are 35 times higher than what is allowed will likely "trip up" the affected VW cars sold in Australia from 2009 to 2015.
More than 50,000 VWs alone could be impacted locally
VW Australia is still yet to confirm if any cars are affected locally because it is waiting on advice from its German head office.
However, a News Corp Australia investigation has found more than 50,000 VWs alone could be impacted locally, as that is approximately how many diesel versions of the 136,000 models were sold during that period.
Owners of affected vehicles -- which includes diesel versions of the VW Golf hatchback, Tiguan SUV and Passat sedan and wagon sold between 2009 and 2015 -- should not be alarmed as the software is not intended to impact how the car drives.
But emissions experts say if and when a fix is introduced the cars may have slightly less power in order to meet the new emissions regulations.
The scandal -- exposed in the US late last week when the emissions ratings of 486,000 cars sold there were found to be false -- went global overnight with VW confirming more than 11 million cars worldwide have diesel engines with the same software that can trick testing equipment.
VW has set aside a staggering $10 billion (€6.5 billion) for rectification work and compensation claims, but this figure is expected to climb.
The scandal has highlighted the gross deficiency of the car industry's self-regulation around the world.
Governments in the US, Europe and Australia -- and in most other countries -- do not independently test the fuel economy and emissions claims of vehicles.
Instead they rely on car companies to supply data that backs their claim, and threatens them with fines if they are misleading.
In the case of VW, it was caught by accident after two US transport campaigners Peter Mock and John German -- working with engineers from West Virginia University -- stumbled on the cheat mode.
They were initially trying to highlight how good the VW diesel engines performed but became suspicious when they could only replicate the low emissions figures in lab conditions; in real-world driving the toxins spiked between 5 and 35 times the original claim.
"From the Australian point of view we don't know if the same situation applies here to VW or anyone else because we don't do emissions testing in Australia to know whether the figures are representative," said Jack Haley, vehicle engineering expert for the National Roads and Motorists Association.
"We don't even check the fuel consumption figures. That may be an issue for Fair Trading whether motorists are being mislead by the figures that are very difficult to replicate in normal driving."
Mr Haley said the government "just accepts the manufacturer's figures" because Australia doesn't have a laboratory that could handle the volume of vehicle emissions tests that would be required.
In the case of VW, it is suspected the engine management software can detect when the vehicle is being tested for fuel consumption and engine emissions because the tests are so specific.
We do not and will not tolerate violations of any kind of our internal rules or of the law
Volkswagen CEO, Dr. Martin Winterkorn said the company would fast-track its investigations: "The Board of Management at Volkswagen AG takes these findings very seriously. I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public.
"We will cooperate fully with the responsible agencies, with transparency and urgency, to clearly, openly, and completely establish all of the facts of this case. Volkswagen has ordered an external investigation of this matter.
"We do not and will not tolerate violations of any kind of our internal rules or of the law."
VW is yet to issue a formal recall globally or locally, but it appears to be preparing for one having set aside the funds to handle such a massive task.
The action may involve customers returning their cars to dealership to have their computers "reflashed" with new software.
However, in the US there is already talk of compensation claims, given that the cars don't meet the fuel economy emissions standards advertised.