It will be made a criminal offence in Britain to attempt to manipulate vehicle emission test results.
In a tougher stance than current EU rules dictate, the UK Government could levy unlimited fines on businesses and even jail engineers and company executives found to be cheating tests.
The measures have been put to public consultation and are aimed at preventing a repeat of the Volkswagen Group scandal in which 11 million cars were equipped with software that altered emission control systems during testing while the vehicles released up to 40 times more nitrogen oxide outside the laboratory test cells.
“We continue to take the unacceptable actions of Volkswagen extremely seriously, and we are framing new measures to crack down on emissions cheats in future,” said Transport Minister Jesse Norman to media. “Those who cheat should be held to proper account in this country, legally and financially, for their actions.”
The rules could extend to any importer who brings a non-compliant product to the UK, the government said. Other proposals to improve air quality and road safety include updating consumer information to show the result of more rigorous tests on the fuel economy of new cars which accurately indicate “real world” figures achieve on the road.