Volkswagen says the recall of super-polluting cars that cheated emissions tests is set to start ‘imminently’ - nine years after the first ‘defeat devices’ were fitted.
The German car maker says it has been fixing only the rare Amarok pick-up - and it has been waiting for German motor authorities to approve work on other models.
Brands include VW, Audi, Seat and Skoda cars and VW commercial vehicles fitted with 2ltr, 1.6ltr or 1.2ltr ‘EA189’ engines.
The firm accepts it sold 11m rigged diesels pumping out up to 35 times more noxious gas than tests would suggest - including 1.2m in the UK.
In November, charity Brake said air pollution caused the premature deaths of an estimated 698 people in South Yorkshire in a year. Sheffield has been missing EU nitrogen dioxide targets since 2010 and the council says it is ‘not likely’ to be below the legal limit until at least 2020.
A VW spokesman said: “We are not dragging our feet. A lot of people in the UK and especially Germany have been working flat out on fixes which must be tested and tested again in myriad variances.
“Fixes to other vehicles will commence imminently. However, this is dependent on German motor authorities approving each fix, and we cannot apply a timeline. We cannot force drivers to come in, but we are making sure we inform them as much as we can. We have a full list and we are quite optimistic we will reach everyone.”
The firm has paid the DVLA for the names and addresses of owners in the UK and says it has contacted them all, he added.
Each brand has a website where owners can input the VIN number, etched on windscreens, to check whether their car is affected, he added.
Tom Finnegan-Smith, head of strategic transport at Sheffield City Council, said: “Sheffield is one of a number of cities across the UK are in breach of EU air quality limits relating to nitrogen dioxide which should have been met by January 2010. A key contributor is road traffic, in particular diesel vehicles.”