Finance

VW Takes Hit For Diesel Tests On Monkeys, Humans

VW Takes Hit For Diesel Tests On Monkeys, Humans

This happened in 2014 to prove that diesel engines were clean.

Volkswagen chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch said on Monday diesel exhaust tests involving monkeys were "totally incomprehensible" and the matter must be "investigated fully and unconditionally".

German media say the health impact research was done by EUGT, a body funded by Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW.

Volkswagen's dieselgate scandal took a freaky turn last week when the New York Times reported a lab in Albuquerque, New Mexico locked ten monkeys in a chamber and had them watch cartoons while exhaust fumes from a Beetle were piped into the compartment. The study group, financed equally by the three carmakers, ceased activities a year ago and the project wasn't completed, VW said.

The goal was to compare the results of the Beetle emission to those of a 1999 Ford diesel pickup and debunk a World Health Organization report that claimed diesel exhaust is a carcinogen.

The report insisted an experiment funded by Volkswagen, Daimler, supplier Robert Bosch and BMW forced 10 monkeys to watch cartoons in an airtight room while breathing in tailpipe fumes from a VW Beetle. If for example, safety and health in the workplace were being tested, as Aachen University has suggested, and ethical standards were adhered to, it is defensible, ' Weil told a news conference on Monday.

Then at the weekend Germany's Stuttgarter Zeitung and SWR radio reported that 19 men and six women had inhaled diesel fumes in another EUGT experiment.

The 2015 study on human subjects states that the "protocol" involved was approved by the "Ethics Committee of the Medical Faculty of RWTH Aachen University" and that each subject gave "informed written consent" before taking part in the trials. VW is embroiled in a scandal over software that gave false diesel exhaust data.

German politicians condemned the experiments.




Business Insider says Volkswagen's supervisory board will conduct an inquiry into the tests. Germany's transport minister Christian Schmidt said carmakers had further undermined trust in the industry while economy minister Brigitte Zypries said ethical boundaries mustn't be violated.

VW said on Twitter that the Group "explicitly distances itself from all forms of animal cruelty".

In a statement, VW said: "We apologise for the misconduct and the lack of judgement of individuals".

The research group commissioned numerous studies on topics related to diesel, such as studies shedding doubt on whether restricting diesel vehicles in urban areas led to better air quality. In addition, a "comprehensive investigation" has been started, even though Daimler argues it did not have any sort of influence.

"We are shocked by the extent and application of the studies".

One member of VW staff involved in the study was said to be James Liang, the company's head of diesel competence in the US. "When we learned of this deception, we determined the study was compromised".

"We believe the animal tests in this study were unnecessary and repulsive", Daimler said in a statement.

The carmakers said the research group was independent and overseen by reputable scientists.

Volkswagen's advisory board has called for an investigation into the activities of the now defunct organisation and the sub-contracted research companies it hired, including the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, New Mexico.