The plea stems from VW's decision to install its diesel-powered vehicles with software that programs the cars to emit artificially low amounts of pollutants when they're in the process of being tested. VW installed the software in as many as 580,000 diesel-powered vehicles during a six-year period in the US alone. The company has since agreed to buy back as many as a half-million of those vehicles.
In all, Volkswagen will pay as much as $25 billion in the US alone as a result of the scandal. The automaker put a stop-sale on its diesel vehicles in the US in late 2015 and has no plans to resume. The US Justice Department has also charged seven current or former VW executives with crimes for their roles in the scandal, including one who is in custody. Oliver Schmidt, who ran VW's US regulatory compliance department, was arrested in January. Additionally, James Robert Liang, a Volkswagen engineer, pleaded guilty last September. He could face five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.