Volkswagen confirmed Thursday that it had reached an agreement in principle with U.S. authorities over its use of so-called defeat devices to disguise the real amount of emissions produced by its diesel vehicles.
The German automaker said the accord was reached with the Justice Department's Environmental Division, the Environment Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board.
It added that the agreement in principle was hammered out with the full involvement of the Federal Trade Commission, which in recent weeks filed a lawsuit against VW for false advertising.
The automaker said it also "reached an agreement on the basic features of a settlement with the class action plaintiffs in the lawsuit in San Francisco" and that that agreement "will be incorporated into a comprehensive settlement in the coming weeks."
Volkswagen said ongoing investigations by the Justice Department's Criminal Division and state attorneys general were not prejudiced by those agreements.
The automaker issued the news release after Charles R. Breyer, who presides over the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, said Thursday that Volkswagen had reached an agreement in principle with U.S. environmental authorities, consumers and the state of California over defeat devices installed on some 600,000 diesel vehicles.
Without indicating the amount of the settlement, he said that preliminary agreement included substantial compensation for consumers affected by the trickery and that Volkswagen would also have to contribute to a fund to promote green technologies in the auto sector.
In January, the U.S. Justice Department sued Volkswagen for up to $46 billion over the rogue software installed on diesel vehicles sold in the United States since 2008.
The defeat devices detected when emissions testing was taking place and activated the cars' emissions controls.
When those same vehicles were being driven under normal conditions, the controls were turned off and they spewed up to 40 times the United States' legally allowable amount of nitrogen oxides, which have been linked to lung and respiratory illnesses.