400,000 VW cars in UK need engine modification

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Media captionVW UK boss Paul Willis: "I would like to apologise sincerely and unreservedly that Volkswagen has significantly let down its customers"

About 400,000 Volkswagen cars in the UK will need fuel injectors altered as well as a software fix, its UK boss said.

Paul Willis, UK managing director, said that cars fitted with the 1.6L diesel engine would need the physical remedy.

Those with the larger 2L engine would only need a software fix, he told the Commons Transport select committee.

Mr Willis apologised "sincerely and unreservedly" for letting down customers.

"Volkswagen has significantly let down its customers and the wider public... we recognise we've fallen short of the standards expected and we will take all the necessary steps to regain trust."

He told the MPs it was in 2008 that VW first sold cars in the UK with engines that could cheat emissions testing.

A total of 1.2 million UK vehicles had been affected, but the remaining two thirds would only need software altered, Mr Willis explained.

The total included 583,000 Volkswagens, 393,000 Audis, 132,000 Skodas and 77,000 Seats. Only Germany had more vehicles affected by the problem than the UK.

Mr Willis said that recalls of UK vehicles would start in the first quarter of 2016.

Owners who might be inconvenienced by not having a vehicle during the recall process would be given a loan car, the VW boss added.

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Asked more technical questions about the emissions scandal, Mr Willis explained that his role involved responsibility for sales, marketing and finance, and that engineering was handled by the firm's team in Wolfsburg. "I'm not an engineer," he said several times.

'Substantial damage'

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin told the MPs on the committee that the scandal would cause VW "very substantial damage".

He said a move to on-the-road testing of vehicle emissions - as opposed to laboratory testing - would render any defeat devices useless: "We have been right to press for real-world testing ... and we will see changes across Europe on that front."

Asked whether any other car makers had used similar software to evade emissions regulations, Mr McLoughlin said he was satisfied they had not on the basis of their responses. However, some had yet to answer his queries, he added.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of industry body the SMMT, said it was too soon to say whether the reputation of the wider automotive sector would be affected by revelation of VW's emissions cheating.

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