US charges six Volkswagen executives as German company agrees to pay $6 billion settlement over emissions saga

Several other individuals who work for or previously worked for the VW Group are also being investigated as part of the US Department of Justice's ongoing investigation into the dieselgate scandal, which made global headlines in September 2015.

How Volkswagen cheated

The Volkswagen Group and many of its brands, including Audi, had sold cars that featured a special emissions bypass function, or defeat device, that allowed them to pass lab tests. However, in the real world these cars emitted up to 40 times the NOx (nitrogen oxides) level legally allowed in the US.

Human absorption of NOx can lead to health issues and in extreme cases cause cancer and death.

Globally, about 11 million diesel cars featured the defeat device, including Audi and VW vehicles in Australia, which are listed here.

After his company pleaded guilty to the three charges, Volkswagen's new CEO and former Porsche chief Matthias Müller said: "Volkswagen deeply regrets the behaviour that gave rise to the diesel crisis.

"Since all of this came to light, we have worked tirelessly to make things right for our affected customers and have already achieved some progress on this path.

"The agreements that we have reached with the US government reflect our determination to address misconduct that went against all of the values Volkswagen holds so dear. They are an important step forward for our company and all our employees."

Time to move on? Not quite

As the VW Group looks to put its – and arguably the automotive industry's – worst scandal behind it, the US Justice Department doesn't appear done with its investigation of the dieselgate scandal.

US Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, told a packed press conference in Washington yesterday: "The investigation is still open and it is ongoing.

"Volkswagen knew of these problems and when regulators expressed concern Volkswagen obfuscated, they denied, and they ultimately lied."

"We will continue to pursue the individuals responsible for orchestrating this damaging conspiracy," said the US Attorney General.

"But I will stress that we are looking at individuals who were involved and would have had knowledge of the same information that's currently being charged," she added.

Volkswagen, meanwhile, is trying to move on and still hopes to one day overtake Toyota as the world's largest car-maker.

The Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen Group, Hans Dieter Pötsch, said: "We are no longer the same company we were 16 months ago. The Supervisory Board and the Management Board have faced up to past actions."