Volkswagen has formally pleaded guilty to cheating the US government by using software to evade emission rules in nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles. The German automaker pleaded guilty to conspiracy, obstruction of justice and an import crime. Manfred Doess, VW general counsel, told a court in Detroit the company was “guilty on all three counts”. The deal with the Department of Justice (DoJ) was made weeks ago. VW agreed to pay a $4.3bn (£3.5bn) penalty, although the scandal has cost the company about $21bn.