Volkswagen's emissions scandal spreads to South Korea as experts warn "millions" of European cars could be affected

 
Catherine Neilan
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Volkswagen: Chief executive Martin Winterkorn said he was "personally... deeply sorry" (Source: Getty)

There was no let up from the scandal engulfing the world's largest car manufacturer Volkswagen this morning as it emerged that the emissions-rigged cars could have been sold around the world.

Experts have warned that "millions" of cars on British roads could be recalled on the back of the claims that it had installed a "detect device" which would enable it to effectively cheat during emissions tests.

The claims, made by the US' Environmental Protection Agency, will force the car company to recall 500,000 Volkswagen and Audi vehicles manufactured between 2009 and 2015 and prompted a global sell-off of Volkswagen shares yesterday, taking the share price to a six-year low. The Department for Justice has reportedly begun a criminal investigation into the claims.

But pressure group Transport and Environment claims the impact will be more widely felt internationally.

Clean vehicles manager at T&E Greg Archer said: "Diesel cars are niche in the US, and in most of the rest of the world, representing just one in seven cars sold worldwide. The VW recall is not large by global standards. But in Europe over half of new cars are diesels – 7.5 million of the 10 million sold globally last year were bought in Europe.

"There is strong evidence that similar illegal devices are also used in Europe by both VW and other manufacturers. Since 2009, when VW began using defeat devices, over 40 million diesel cars have been sold in Europe, a sixth of all cars on the road today."

The scandal has already spread beyond the US borders, with South Korea saying it plans to investigate three of its diesel models.

The South Korean probe will involve 4,000 to 5,000 Jetta, Golf and Audi A3 vehicles, produced in 2014 and 2015, Park Pan-kyu, a deputy director at South Korea's environment ministry, told Reuters.
The ministry will consider recalling those vehicles after conducting the investigation, he said.
"If South Korean authorities find problems in the VW diesel cars, the probe could be expanded to all German diesel cars," he said.
Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn apologised over the weekend for the violation of US rules.
“I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public,” he said in a statement. “Volkswagen has ordered an external investigation of this matter.”

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