The U.S. Federal Trade Commission filed suit Tuesday against Volkswagen AG for allegedly falsely advertising that hundreds of thousands of diesel vehicles were environmentally friendly, when they were secretly emitting excess pollution.

The FTC filed suit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, saying U.S. consumers suffered "billions of dollars in injury" as a result of the deception.

VW has admitted to using undeclared software that allowed 580,000 diesel vehicles built since 2009 to emit up to 40 times legally allowable pollution.

The Justice Department sued VW for up to $46 billion in January for allegedly violating environmental laws, and VW faces more than 500 civil lawsuits related to excess emissions, along with suits from some U.S. states. Last week, a federal judge set an April 21 deadline for VW to remedy the vehicles.

VW spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan said the automaker has received the FTC complaint and "continues to cooperate" with all U.S. regulators.