Volkswagen scandal: MILLIONS of cars could be recalled in UK over emissions fraud

VW faces fines of up to £18bn

German car manufacturer Volkswagen has sent shockwaves across the world and seen its share price plunge after admitting illegally rigging emissions tests on its vehicles to indicate low levels of pollution.

The company, Europe’s largest car manufacturer, which makes VW, Audi, Seat, Skoda, Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini cars, deceived emissions testers by illegally installing software that recognised when diesel cars were undergoing testing, and controlling exhaust fumes.

This meant cars could appear to be environmentally friendly, when in reality, they could emit up to 40 times the legal limit of highly toxic nitrogen oxide.

Use of the illegal software began being systematically installed in 2009.

VW faces fines of up to £18bn and having to recall millions of its cars across the globe under all its various brands.

Other manufacturers suspected

Last night the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) broadened its investigation to other car manufacturers, sparking fears that the practice may have been used across the industry.

In Europe, diesel engines must comply with the EU’s emissions standard, but a recent study by the Transport and Environment (T&E) group, found just one in 10 complied, with one model of BMW producing ten times the legal limit of nitrogen oxide.

Millions of cars are illegal

The upshot is that millions of drivers across Britain are likely to be driving cars producing an illegal amount of pollution. Though not the drivers’ fault, they do not meet legal standards. This is likely to prompt huge numbers of recalls, which will be hugely damaging for VW and the brands involved.

Over 500,000 cars have already been recalled in the US since the scandal broke on Friday, and now the scandal is making waves across Europe, China and South Korea.

VW cars in China

Shares tumble

Shares in Volkswagen fell 19% after the scandal broke, and then fell by a further 5% today.

Meanwhile in Asia, shares in car brands including Kia and Hyundai enjoyed a small surge of more than 3% each with the market expecting them to make gains at VW’s expense.

Pollution

In Britain, almost 30,000 deaths a year are caused by air pollution, with over 9,000 of those occurring in London.

Nitrogen oxide from diesel fumes is a particular problem, and Oxford Street has the one of the world’s worst pollution problems, this year exceeding its annual legal limit for nitrogen dioxide in just four days.

The problem has been compounded as the popularity of diesel vehicles has soared, with numbers on British roads rising from 1.6 million in 1994 to over 12 million today.

Nonetheless, manufacturers consistently claimed that harmful emissions were diminishing. This has now been proved untrue.

Dr Heather Walton, senior lecturer in environmental health at King’s College London said to the Telegraph: “If manufacturers were able to ensure that real-world emissions were as good as those in laboratory tests, this would lead to substantial reductions in emissions

“Substantial reductions in emissions would be expected to lead to worthwhile reductions in health effects.”

Air pollution levels in Britain have not dropped and poisonous air now kills as many people as smoking.

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