Volkswagen to Brits: We'll pay big bucks for your diesel clunker

When will hybrids and electric cars really take over?
When will hybrids and electric cars really take over?

Volkswagen is on a search and destroy mission.

The automaker is offering up to £6,000 ($7,750) to Brits who are willing to buy a shiny new Volkswagen (VLKAY) car and send their old diesel clunker to the scrapyard.

The incentives -- billed by the automaker as an environmental program -- come as pressure mounts on automakers to do more to help fight air pollution in Europe.

Britain and France have already set target dates for phasing out diesel and gasoline vehicles, and some German cities are considering banning diesel cars.

Related: These countries want to ditch gas and diesel cars

British drivers trading any brand of older diesel car for a new Volkswagen will receive discounts of £1,800 ($2,300) on a compact model, £4,000 ($5,170) on a Golf, and £6,000 ($7,750) on a minivan.

Savings can hit £10,000 ($13,000) when combined with government grants offered on new electric models.

Volkswagen-owned brands Audi, Skoda and SEAT are also participating in the program. Toyota (TM) announced a similar scheme on Thursday, offering up to £4,000 ($5,170) off its vehicles.

Volkswagen will scrap the older diesel cars. Paul Buckett, the company's head of corporate affairs in the U.K., said the engines will be destroyed to prevent them being resold in other countries. Some other parts will be recycled.

The automaker launched a similar program in Germany following an industry summit with government officials in August. Executives representing Audi, Porsche, BMW (BMWYY), Opel and Daimler (DDAIF) also attended the conference.

The companies agreed at the meeting to retrofit over 5 million vehicles with a software update that reduces nitrogen oxides emissions by as much as 30%.

Related: German automakers confront a diesel rebellion in their own backyard

Volkswagen admitted in 2015 that it had been cheating on diesel emissions tests after its vehicles in the U.S. were found to be emitting up to 40 times the legal limit on nitrogen oxide. Other automakers including Daimler, Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) and Renault (RNLSY) are also facing probes over diesel emissions.

There may be more trouble ahead.

In July, European antitrust officials confirmed they were looking into claims that Germany's major carmakers may have been operating a cartel since the 1990s, colluding on everything from vehicle development to diesel emissions systems.

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