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The Volkswagen engineers who installed "defeat devices" in vehicles to cheat emissions tests started their scheme in 2005 because they couldn't figure out how to pass U.S. tests, a company official said Thursday.

Hans Dieter Pötsch, chairman of the supervisory board of Volkswagen, told reporters Thursday that the company's investigation has revealed that engineers couldn't find a way to get "clean diesel" vehicles past U.S. emissions tests. Instead, they cheated from the beginning of the program and didn't stop when better solutions became available, he said.

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