There are now more than 11 million Volkswagen diesel cars caught up in the software cheat that secretly tricked emissions testing equipment.
The Volkswagen diesel scandal that started with 486,000 cars in the US has now gone global and roped in 11 million vehicles -- and the company has set aside a staggering $10 billion (€6.5 billion) for rectification work and compensation claims.
The list of cars affected also now includes those from other VW-owned brands such as Audi and Skoda.
The cars are alleged to have secret software hidden in their engine management computers to cheat strict fuel economy and emissions tests.
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The software program can detect when the vehicle is being tested for fuel consumption and engine emissions because the tests are so specific.
But in normal driving conditions, US regulators found, the output of certain toxins increased by 10 to 40 times the amount during the test.
A statement issued by Volkswagen overnight said: “Volkswagen is working at full speed to clarify irregularities concerning a particular software used in diesel engines.”
Audi and Skoda cars with the same diesel engines made between 2009 and 2015 are also affected.
It is unclear if Australian-delivered VW, Audi and Skoda diesel cars would breach local emissions rules.
“Further internal investigations conducted to date have established that the relevant engine management software is also installed in other Volkswagen Group vehicles with diesel engines,” the statement said.
Volkswagen CEO, Dr. Martin Winterkorn said: “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."
Australia has much weaker emissions standards than the US or Europe but the cars sold here are likely to have the same software.
However, it is unclear if the Australian-delivered VW, Audi and Skoda diesel cars made from 2009 to 2015 would breach local emissions rules.
Volkswagen Australia was not able to disclose how many potentially affected cars there are locally when contacted by News Corp Australia for comment.
Spokesman for the Volkswagen and Skoda brands in Australia, Karl Gehling, said they were yet to be advised from Germany if Australian cars are affected.
Audi Australia spokeswoman Anna Burgdorf also told News Corp Australia they were yet to determine if any cars were affected locally.
VW is yet to issue a formal recall, 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.