VW's standing in a public-confidence index declined sharply (Photo: VW)

Volkswagen's manipulation of diesel emission tests has eroded confidence in the entire German auto industry, according to a new poll.

Germany's Association of Communication Consultancies (GPRA) said the car industry has fallen from first place in its ranking of 15 important industries in December 2014 to 13th place currently. GPRA said that was the biggest drop since it started compiling the index in 2009.

"It's clear that people feel personally cheated by the auto industry," said GPRA President Uwe Kohrs. "There's a basic lack of trust and that is all the more noteworthy because it concerns the German carmakers, who until now were undisputedly the measure of all things."

As expected, Volkswagen suffered the biggest loss of consumer confidence. A mere 43 pc of the 1,000 people polled said they still have faith in Europe's biggest carmaker. That compares with 84 pc in 2013.

The fallout of the diesel manipulations also hit Audi. Only 52 pc of said they had confidence in the VW Group's premium brand.

And, in a confirmation of the wide-ranging impact of the emissions tampering, BMW and Mercedes, which have said they don't use any devices to trick emissions tests, fell 17 pc and 6 pc, respectively, compared with 2013.

Volkswagen admitted last month that it had for years deployed special software code to help many of its diesel-powered cars pass emissions tests in the US. It later admitted the software had been installed on 11 million of its cars, also in other parts of the world.

As more revelations surfaced and the company's share price plunged, VW was forced to change its top management, set aside billions of euros in provisions and redefine its entire global business strategy.