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The Volkswagen emissions scandal means that millions of Britons could effectively be driving around in illegal cars. The German car manufacturer faces £10bn in fines, and is being forced to recall all the diesel cars that have been affected in order to remedy the problem, while experts and motoring groups have warned that the problem could be much more widespread than only affecting the cars made by VW and their subsidiaries.

All new diesel cars must meet Euro 6 emissions standards when they are sold in the UK and the rest of Europe. However, Transport and Environment, a campaign group that aims to reduce the level of emissions in the air, produced a report that stated only one in ten cars met this criteria. Testing was then undertaken to determine whether rumours of software that was used to cheat emissions testing were true.

Volkswagen were found to have installed this software in diesels that had been manufactured since 2009, and it has had a widespread effect on the motoring industry. VW also make Audi, Seat, Skoda, Bentley, Lamborghini, and Porsches, and it is feared that it is not only VW and Audi, which have already tested positive, that could be affected. Shares in VW have plummeted since they admitted to wrongdoing, while trust in German manufacturing, which was held up as being among the best and most reliable in the world, has also plummeted.

Volkswagen has been told that it must start to recall cars that are affected from the beginning of next year, while experts have said that other manufacturers must be tested to determine whether it is a problem that is more widespread than has so far been reported.

Even if the problem only exists with the manufacturers so far affected, this means that there could potentially be millions of cars on the road that are illegal because they would otherwise have failed the emissions testing. Although drivers would be unaware of the problem, it does mean that recalls should be treated as a matter of urgency and could cost VW, who face up to £10bn in fines, many more billions of pounds.