For 7 years, VW software thwarted pollution regulations

FILE - In a Tuesday, May 5, 2015 file photo, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn addresses the shareholders during the annual shareholder meeting of the car manufacturer Volkswagen in Hannover, Germany. Winterkorn apologized Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, after the Environmental Protection Agency said the German automaker skirted clean air rules by rigging emissions tests for about 500,000 diesel cars. "I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public," Volkswagen chief Martin Winterkorn said in a statement. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)

DETROIT - Volkswagen became the world's top-selling carmaker trumpeting the environmental friendliness, fuel efficiency and high performance of diesel-powered vehicles that meet America's tough Clean Air laws.

VW's success story was so good that pollution-control advocates did their own tests, hoping to persuade other countries to enforce the same strict standards.

Instead, they got a foul-smelling surprise: In actual driving, the VWs spewed as much as 40 times more pollution from their tailpipes than allowed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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