VW, BMW and Daimler commissioned lab tests on humans and animals

Over the weekend, the German newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung revealed a set of parallel experiments by the same organization examined the effects of nitrogen dioxide (NO2)-a pollutant found in diesel emissions-on 25 healthy human subjects that took place in Aachen, a city in Western Germany. Bosch said it left the group in 2013.

The now defunct European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector, known as EUGT - whose budget consisted entirely of funds from the three automakers - didn't do research of its own, but rather commissioned academics to produce reports that might paint diesel in a favourable light, the Times report says.

The New York Times reported on Friday that German carmakers had used the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector, also known as EUGT, to commission the study, which was created to defend diesel following revelations that the fuel's exhaust fumes were carcinogenic. They were apparently carried out to counter a 2012 decision by the World Health Organization to classify diesel exhaust fumes as a carcinogen.

"We apologise for the misconduct and the lack of judgment of individuals", A spokesperson for Volkswagen said in a statement. Barbara Hendricks, the German environment minister, described the experiments as "abominable". That, they say, was done by a research advisory board made up of scientists.

Daimler, meanwhile, owners of Mercedes, released a statement that said it was "appalled" by the study, adding: "We expressly distance ourselves from the studies and the EUGT".

The paper claimed it was led by the now defunct European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector, also known as EUGT, a body that was exclusively funded by VW, Daimler and BMW.

LRRI conducted the study in 2015 to measure the health effects of breathing diesel exhaust from a Volkswagen Beetle as part of VW's efforts to show that newer models emitted less pollution, according to the Times report.

Stock image
Stock image

The controversy comes as the German vehicle industry tries to recover from the "Dieselgate" scandal of 2015, in which it emerged several carmakers had fitted software to their diesel engines created to cheat emissions tests.

While Volkswagen has admitted its lapse of compassion, other experimenters remain in the Dark Ages, treating sentient beings as mere laboratory tools and simultaneously preventing real scientific progress.

German vehicle manufacturers have been testing the impact of diesel fumes on monkeys by getting them to inhale them in lab conditions. It was carried out at the University of Aachen in Germany and backed by a little-known group funded by Volkswagen AG, Daimler AG and BMW AG.

"We want to absolutely rule out testing on animals for the future so that this doesn't happen again", Steg reportedly told Bild.

On Monday Volkswagen said that some staff members, whom it did not identify, including some in its legal department, at the VW brand's technical development division and at Volkswagen of America, were aware of the tests at the time.

In addition to a full inquiry and a comprehensive report, he expects "hard personal consequences" for those involved in the tests, German Der Spiegel magazine quoted him as saying.

Volkswagen quickly issued an apology for the study involving monkeys, while leading corporate figures personally condemned the animal experiment. VW said on Twitter that the Group "explicitly distances itself from all forms of animal cruelty".

  • Anthony Vega