German automakers test toxic exhaust fumes on caged monkeys

German automakers test toxic exhaust fumes on caged monkeys

Although VW posted record revenues past year, totalling the largest sales volume of any vehicle brand, the spectre of its American emissions scandal still looms.

Without the benefit of viewing documents only The New York Times claims to have seen - with the likes of Reuters, Bloomberg and Fortune all reporting off the NYT story - CarAdvice is not prepared to speculate on the details.

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The study itself was supported by Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, according to Bloomberg. It sounds absurd, like something from a Cold War spy thriller, but unfortunately for VW (and the monkeys involved), it's all true. Can VW recover from this latest controversy?

The research was commissioned by the European Scientific Study Group for the Environment, Health and Transport Sector, which officially ceased operations previous year amid controversy over its work. "That a whole branch of industry has apparently tried to discard scientific facts with such brazen and dubious methods makes the entire thing even more horrific", Barbara Hendricks, the German environment minister, tells The Guardian. "And it comes on the tail of the emissions scandal, which was ethically problematic in the first place".

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According to German newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung, a study funded by Volkswagen Group, Daimler and BMW in 2007 had 25 people inhaling diesel exhaust fumes at a clinic used by the University of Aachen.

German auto manufacturers have been testing the impact of diesel fumes on monkeys by getting them to inhale them in lab conditions.

The tests were carried out by the US-based Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, the magazine adds, which received $730,000 (£520,000) worth of funding from the EUGT. This, unfortunately, is where the testing methodology went awry - badly.

The statement was released at a time when the experiments with monkeys, but not those with humans, were publicly known.

Volkswagen admitted that 11 million of its vehicles were equipped with software that was used to cheat on emissions tests.

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In a separate, comparative test, they also had to inhale fumes produced by an older-model 1999 Ford diesel pickup - before being anaesthetised and intubated, then having their lungs washed out so their bronchial tubes could be examined. It was always going to generate an artificially low volume of all the critical pollution parameters.

Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller weighed in earlier today by saying the "The methods practiced by EUGT were totally wrong". We condemn the experiments in the strongest terms.

To keep the animals calm and occupied during the experiment, lab workers had set up a TV the animals could view from their gas chambers.

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.

Alleged fresh evidence that leading German auto makers commissioned unethical experiments to demonstrate the limited health risk posed by modern diesel engines prompted angry responses from politicians and animal rights activists on Monday. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

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