Volkswagen has pleaded guilty to three US charges relating to the emissions scandal that emerged in 2015.
The German company's lawyer Manfred Doss said VW had committed criminal acts in both Germany and the United States, and admitted that cars were fitted with software that allowed them to cheat emissions tests over six years.
John Neal, assistant US attorney, told the court that VW had embarked upon a "well thought-out, planned offensive that went to the top of the organisation". The illegal devices fitted into VW's diesel cars allowed the vehicles to emit up for 40 times the legally-permitted levels of pollution.
In January, VW made an agreement with the US Department of Justice to pay $4.3bn (£3.5bn) in fines, and has committed to reforms of the business. It will also be subjected to oversight by an independent monitor.
The car maker has pleaded guilty to:
- conspiracy to commit fraud;
- obstruction of justice;
- and entry of goods by false statement.
US district judge Sean Cox described the emissions scandal as a "very, very serious crime".
Seven current and former VW executives have been charged with crimes relating to the scandal by the American authorities.
A VW spokesperson that the company "deeply regrets the behaviour that gave rise to the diesel crisis".