LONDON (Reuters) -- Volkswagen first sold cars in Britain equipped with software that could cheat emissions tests in 2008, its UK boss, Paul Willis, said, but he shed little light on the root cause of the scandal.
VW has admitted rigging diesel emissions tests in the U.S. and Germany's transport minister says it also manipulated them in Europe.
Willis said VW first began selling cars in the UK equipped with so-called defeat devices around seven years ago, but he only became aware of such software last month.
"I knew nothing about this subject until 19 September this year, when I first heard it on the news from the United States," Willis told a committee of British lawmakers on Monday.
He said he thought it was implausible that senior VW executives knew about the test-rigging.
VW's U.S. chief executive, Michael Horn, told American lawmakers last week that the rigging of tests was not a company decision but the result of actions by a small number of engineers.
In the UK, about 1.2 million VW Group vehicles have been affected by the cheat software.
Wlllis apologized to customers and said the brand needed to rebuild trust, but when asked technical details about the software and engines, he said: "I'm not an engineer."