The UK secretary of state for transport Patrick McLoughlin has described the current emissions scandal surrounding Volkswagen (VW) internationally as ‘unacceptable.’

McLoughin said: "The government takes the unacceptable actions of VW extremely seriously.

"My priority is to protect the public as we go through the process of investigating what went wrong and what we can do to stop it happening again in the future.

"We have called on the EU to conduct a Europe wide investigation into whether there is evidence that cars here have been fitted with defeat devices.

"In the meantime we are taking robust action. The Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA), the UK regulator, is working with vehicle manufacturers to ensure that this issue is not industry wide.

"As part of this work they will re-run laboratory tests where necessary and compare them against real world driving emissions."

The comment came the same day as Matthais Muller was appointed chief executive officer of VW with immediate effect, following the resignation of Martin Winterkorn, on 24 September.

Muller said: "My most urgent task is to win back trust for the Volkswagen Group – by leaving no stone unturned and with maximum transparency, as well as drawing the right conclusions from the current situation. Under my leadership, Volkswagen will do everything it can to develop and implement the most stringent compliance and governance standards in our industry."

Aside from promoting Muller, VWs supervisory board said it had its chairman to mandate German and US lawyers to objectively investigate and fully clarify the manipulation of emissions data of diesel engines.

Herbert Diess, chief executive officer of Volkswagen Passenger Cars said: "We are working at full speed on a technical solution that we will present to partners, to our customers and to the public as swiftly as possible. Our aim is to inform our customers as quickly as possible, so that their vehicles comply fully with regulations. I assure you that Volkswagen will do everything humanly possible to win back the trust of our customers, the dealerships and the public."