Each of the victims will die at least a decade prematurely, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have estimated. In addition, around 60 people will die prematurely in the US.
Diesel cars in the VW group—which includes Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda and Seat—were emitting excessive levels of nitric oxide from 2008 to 2015 when the fraud was finally uncovered.
The excessive emissions were never recorded by testers because VW had fitted 'defeat devices' to the engines of 11 million diesel cars that gave a false low reading that complied with environmental standards.
Although all the cars fitted with the devices have now been recalled, the legacy of the fraud lives on, say the researchers. Around 500 of the premature deaths will be in Germany—the home of VW—and 60 per cent of deaths will occur in neighbouring countries, such as Poland, France and the Czech Republic.