Motor Trade Association chief executive Warwick Quinn says he is shocked by revelations that Volkswagen intentionally rigged almost half a million cars to cheat United States diesel emission tests, though VW confirmed none had been sold in New Zealand.

Quinn said the issue was the first he had heard of carmakers deliberately trying to cheat in emissions 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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Volkswagen New Zealand general manager Tom Ruddenklau yesterday confirmed that none of the Volkswagen cars from the United States were sold in New Zealand, adding that the incident had "nothing to do with New Zealand".

"The cars that are subject to this recall situation are US-based cars and they have an emission regime and engines that are designed and built for that market - we take cars that are out of the EU market and those cars are not involved in this emission-associated recall programme that's happening."

Automobile Association spokesman Mark Stockdale said there was nothing to suggest the issue was broader than the United States and this was the first he had heard of car firms cheating the emissions tests.

Despite these comments, the editor of car review site dogandlemon.com, Clive Matthew-Wilson, called the scandal just the tip of the iceberg, saying cheating on emissions tests was common in the industry and other brands were likely to follow Volkswagen in being caught.

"Volkswagen's main crime was getting caught," Matthew-Wilson said. "This sort of cheating isn't the exception, it's part of an industry-wide pattern of deception.

"It is widely believed that all or most carmakers have been cheating on these tests, which is why the share value of several European carmakers has suddenly dropped; it is highly likely that a number of other carmakers will be caught up in the inevitable investigation that will follow the VW scandal."