Volkswagen owners around the world will be offered cash incentives in an attempt to head off multi-million pound legal actions over the emission-rigging scandal engulfing the firm.
Last night, the company sacked seven senior technicians, with more likely to follow, over the testing cover-up. Meanwhile, dramatic new evidence of how the motoring industry conspired with ministers to cover up cheating in diesel car testing has been revealed.
A team of British scientists repeatedly warned the UK Government that emissions of a deadly pollutant from diesel cars far exceeded official safety levels.
The scientists measured emissions from tens of thousands of diesel engine cars as they drove past sensors on roads in tests carried out since 2011.
The studies, showed that on average diesel cars emitted four times the legal limit of dangerous NOx gases. Their findings appear to have been ignored by successive governments which have continued to offer generous tax subsidies to encourage people to buy diesel cars, which now account for half of new cars sold in the UK.
The spotlight has fallen on diesel car emissions after Volkswagen, the world’s biggest car manufacturer, admitted that it had used a “defeat” device to beat the official tests and enable polluting cars to pass US regulations.
Problems at the scandal-hit company increased when Switzerland announced it was banning the sale of a number of VW models as well as Skoda and Seat diesels also made by the company.
Successive governments have deliberately made diesel cars more attractive and further subsidies, announced in this year’s budget, will be introduced next year although George Osborne, the Chancellor, will be under pressure to scrap them after the VW scandal.
“Cheating goes on for all vehicle tests,” a spokesman said last night. “We are only just scratching the surface of this."