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Photograph: Photo by Simon, used under CC0

Volkswagen said Tuesday it was close to reaching a settlement of about 4.3 billion dollars with the US Department of Justice in the German carmaker's diesel emissions cheating case.

Negotiations between the two parties are in the final phases, Volkswagen said, in a statement issued to comply with German securities law.

The deal includes an admission of guilt and would settle both criminal investigations of the company and civil regulatory cases, VW said.

The supervisor board at Volkswagen, which is headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany, would have to give its approval to the agreement.

Since admitting to installing emissions-cheating software in its vehicles in September 2015, Europe's largest carmaker has been in talks with customers and governments over compensation and damages for the software, which was installed on 11 million cars worldwide.

Volkswagen reached a deal in mid-2016 to compensate owners of 475,000 cars in the United States with 2-litre diesel engines. That agreement could cost VW 16.5 billion dollars.

The outlines of a similar settlement with owners of about 80,000 cars in the US with larger diesel engines were announced last month.

One VW engineer is awaiting sentencing in the case after pleading guilty in US federal court to conspiracy.

Another VW employee, an executive who oversaw US environmental compliance, was in court Monday in Miami after his arrest on a federal criminal complaint alleging conspiracy and detailing possible top-level participation to conceal the cheating from US regulators.

VW has set aside 18.2 billion euros to cover costs from the scandal, which is expected to be the most expensive in the history of the automotive industry.

The company said Tuesday that the full cost could not yet be determined.

Despite the scandal, Volkswagen AG issued data earlier Tuesday that appeared to show the company was the world's biggest carmaker last year, with global sales of more than 10.3 million vehicles, up 3.8 per cent from 2015.

In December, Japan-based Toyota forecast global sales to grow 1 per cent in 2017 to 10.2 million, putting its 2016 sales just below the VW mark.

Carmakers do not issue fully comparable global sales data, complicating such comparisons.

"2016 was a very challenging year for us," Volkswagen Group chief executive Matthias Mueller in a statement issued with the latest figures. "We made strides in resolving and overcoming the diesel crisis and at the same time initiated a fundamental change process ... to get Volkswagen ready for the future of mobility."

Volkswagen expects to introduce nearly 60 new cars across its brands in 2017, with several on display this week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

2016 deliveries reached 4.2 million cars in Europe, 4.3 million in the Asia-Pacific region and 975,600 in the Americas.

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