Petrol cars now drawn into VW emissions scandal
Governments may sue Volkswagen for car tax shortfalls due to incorrect emission figures as the German manufacturer admitted for the first time that some petrol engines may also be involved in the scandal.
Until now, the emissions controversy had been confined to diesel-powered cars.
However, the automaker has admitted that up to 800,000 cars - "predominantly vehicles with diesel engines" - had their CO2 and fuel-consumption ratings incorrectly certified. It is the first time that Volkswagen has indicated some petrol powered cars have been affected.
Many of the affected cars could have been liable for higher rates of Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) and road tax which are calculated on emission levels. And that could prompt governments, including our own, to demand that Volkswagen make up the difference in lost revenue.
It is highly unlikely any government would retrospectively seek the shortfall from owners.
This latest development is separate to the diesel software scandal which has prompted the recall of 11 million cars worldwide. In those cases, software was used to trick official testing systems into believing harmful (NOx) diesel emissions were much lower than they were in real-world driving.
The significance of the new discovery is that, for the first time it includes some petrol engines. And it involves CO2 emissions - the basis for calculating car taxation in many European countries.
CO2 is a greenhouse gas while NOx is a pollutant that has been linked to lung disease.
According to reports, the problem stems from how some smaller engines, including 1.4-litre, were certified to meet CO2 emission standards.
It is not clear which models or brands are affected. Reports suggest smaller engines in Volkswagen Polos and Golfs and some Audis, SEATs and Skodas are involved.