Automakers face heat over tests on monkeys, humans
Public criticism of the German auto industry has escalated after a report that an industry-sponsored entity commissioned a study of the effects of diesel exhaust using monkeys, while another study exposed humans to low levels of one type of air pollutant.
The German government yesterday condemned the experiments and Volkswagen sought to distance itself from them, with its chairman saying that "in the name of the whole board I emphatically disavow such practices."
The tests were reportedly carried out by a research group funded by major German auto companies.
Revelations of the tests add a twist to the German auto industry's attempt to move past Volkswagen's scandal over cheating on diesel tests and the resulting questioning of diesel technology across the industry.
Volkswagen Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch said that the tests must be "investigated completely and without reservation," the dpa news agency reported.
A report by The New York Times found that the research group financed by top German car manufacturers commissioned experiments in which one group of monkeys was exposed to diesel exhaust from a late-model Volkswagen, while another group was exposed to fumes from an older Ford pickup.
The experiments were carried out in 2014 before Volkswagen was caught using software that let vehicles cheat on emissions tests. They were intended to show modern diesel technology had solved the problem of excess emissions, but according to the Times report, the Volkswagen car in the tests was equipped with illegal software that turned emissions controls on while the car was on test stands and off during regular driving.
Volkswagen admitted to using the software in 2015.