Volkswagen faces billions of dollars in potential new penalties after the top US consumer watchdog hit the automaker with a lawsuit over its emissions cheating scandal. The Federal Trade Commission is pursuing compensation for consumers that could rise beyond $15bn, according to a lawsuit filed on Tuesday seeking the repayment of “ill-gotten monies”. The FTC alleges that VW systemically deceived customers over seven years with an advertising campaign promoting “clean diesel” vehicles that were in reality much dirtier than government rules permitted. VW has admitted to equipping up to 11m diesel-powered cars around the world with software that tricked regulators by reducing nitrogen oxide emissions only when pollution tests were under way. Six months since the scandal broke VW finds itself surrounded by hostile forces itching to punish it, ranging from the FTC and the US Department of Justice to the French government and German prosecutors. Even before the FTC lawsuit UBS analysts were predicting the scandal would end up costing the carmaker €38bn, including €10bn in civil penalties and €9bn in criminal fines.