British Volkswagen customers will not have to pay additional taxes if their cars are found to have been fitted with the "detect devices" that allowed vehicles to cheat on emissions tests, the government has confirmed.
Customers will not be liable to pay a higher vehicle excise duty on diesel cars that may not actually pass the tests, the Department for Transport said today.
The government began an investigation into the extent of the practice last week, and Volkswagen admitted this week nearly 1.2 million cars on British roads could have had the device installed.
The government is now widening its probe to look at whether the illegal software used by VW is being used elsewhere.
"There is no evidence of this, but the Department for Transport (DfT) wrote to manufacturers last week to seek further clarity and this next phase will include laboratory and real world testing by the Vehicle Certification Agency," the government said.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "Our priority is to protect the public and give them full confidence in diesel tests. The government expects VW to support owners of these vehicles already purchased in the UK and we are playing our part by ensuring no one will end up with higher tax costs as a result of this scandal.
"We are also starting our testing programme to get to the bottom of what the situation is for VW cars in the UK and understand the wider implications for other car types to give all consumers certainty.
"I have been pressing for action at an EU-level to improve emissions tests and will continue to do so. I have also called for a Europe-wide investigation into the use of ‘defeat devices’, in parallel to the work we are doing in the UK."
The DfT has also urged EU-level action to improve public confidence in testing. The government is liaising with other EU countries’ approval authorities, which are currently conducting similar investigations.
This coordinated approach will improve consistency and enable testing of the widest range of vehicles across Europe, the government said.
Volkswagen's share price has been pummelled by the scandal, which emerged a fortnight ago. Today its share price was down five per cent.