New Zealand Volkswagen cars may be affected by the emissions scandal in the US, with local chief executive Tom Ruddenklau saying new evidence had emerged overnight.

Ruddenklau had previously stated that New Zealand was not involved in any way with the Volkswagen incident, after it emerged that manufacturers in the US had intentionally tampered with almost half a million cars to cheat diesel emissions tests to make the cars look more environmentally friendly.

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At an impromptu press conference, however, Ruddenklau said this may not be the case.


"Yesterday it looked like New Zealand, as a market, was not involved," Ruddenklau said.

"Overnight more details have emerged and it seems to be a lot broader than just in the US. We still can't confirm what it means for New Zealand or what models are involved. What we are doing is still gathering information," he said.

"Our most important job is to communicate with our customers. The most important thing is our brand and the trust of our customers."

Earlier in the week Ruddenklau confirmed that none of the Volkswagen cars sold in New Zealand were from the US, however new evidence has emerged suggesting the software used to cheat the emission tests may have been used on more cars worldwide than was first thought although it is not clear yet how many cars could be affected.

Overnight more details have emerged and it seems to be a lot broader than just in the US.

Motor Trade Association chief executive Warwick Quinn said he was shocked by the revelations, and said it was the first he had heard of carmakers deliberately trying to cheat emission tests and said he would be watching events closely.

"Obviously we're as shocked by the episode as everyone else and we don't know at this stage whether it's limited to just the US or not," Quinn said.

"I think it's too soon to say whether any cars in New Zealand or a huge number of cars in New Zealand have been affected by this, but it is concerning that there is potential fraud involved."

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Quinn said there was no local emission testing for cars coming into New Zealand, with companies relying on tests and international standards from overseas.

It is unclear whether the issue could affect other brands owned by the Volkswagen Group, including Audi and Skoda - both of which use versions of the diesel engine involved in the scandal - but European Motor Distributors group general manager, Glynn Tulloch said regardless of what came out of the enquiry, the issue was not a safety one.

"There's no safety issue, there's no technical issue, at the end of the day it is a customer trust issue," Tulloch said. "We don't know if our cars are even affected or not - that's what we are waiting on now."

Ruddenklau said Volkswagen New Zealand had been in contact with the Automobile Association and the Motor Trade Association over the issue, as well as dealing personally with customers and Volkswagen dealers.

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- AP