Scandal-hit Volkswagen says eight million of its 11 million diesel vehicles fitted with software that cheats in emissions tests were sold in the European Union.
A spokesman for the German car giant confirmed the figure, after VW had mentioned it in a letter to MPs in which it apologised for the “wrongdoing of a small group of people” within the company, according to Handelsblatt business daily.
Volkswagen, which this year became the world’s biggest carmaker by sales, has admitted to fitting vehicles with so-called defeat devices which detect when a car is undergoing testing and switch the engine to a low-emissions mode.
It switches off this mode when the car is back on the road, allowing it to spew out far higher emissions than permitted.
The global scam has wiped more than 40 per cent off Volkswagen’s market capitalisation and forced chief executive Martin Winterkorn to resign.
His successor, former Porsche boss Matthias Mueller, was later on Tuesday scheduled to address VW’s staff about the worst crisis in the company’s history, as it faces a massive recall and potentially billions in fines and class action damages.
VW has vowed to get to the bottom of the scandal with an internal probe led by a team of US lawyers.
By Wednesday, it must lay out a roadmap to German regulators on how it will make its cars legally compliant with emissions guidelines.
Of the eight million vehicles affected in the 28-nation EU, some 2.8 million are in Germany, 1.1 million in Britain, nearly a million in France and 650,000 in Italy, according to information previously released by the company.
In terms of brands, Volkswagen is the most affected with five million cars, but vehicles made by other companies in the VW Group also carry the deception software, among them Audi, Seat and Skoda.