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Photograph: Photo by tookapic, used under CC0

Australia's consumer watchdog said Thursday it was suing German carmaker Volkswagen and its local subsidiary for lying to customers about the levels of toxic gases emitted from their cars.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) accused the company of misleading consumers over standards and emission levels, while selling more than 57,000 cars in the country over a five-year period.

The company has previously admitted installing so-called defeat devices in diesel vehicles which manipulated emissions during lab tests.

Volkswagen Australia marketed their cars "as being environmentally friendly, clean burning, low emission and compliant with stringent European standards when this was not the case under normal driving conditions," the ACCC said in a statement.

It is seeking declarations, pecuniary penalties, corrective advertising, findings of fact and costs, the statement said.

"These allegations involve extraordinary conduct of a serious and deliberate nature by a global corporation and its Australian subsidiary misleading consumers and the Australian public," said ACCC chairman Rod Sims.

The latest court action adds to an expensive legal fallout for the world's number two carmaker, which is already facing class action lawsuits in Australia and around the world over alleged emissions fraud.

In Australia, Bannister Law firm is seeking more than 100 million Australian dollars (75 million US dollars) from the company, as well as replacement costs for more than 90,0000 vehicles.

Last year, Volkswagen Australia recalled 100,000 of its vehicles sold in the country to remove the device.

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