German automakers face heat over tests on humans, monkeys


Associated Press

FRANKFURT, GERMANY

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 Monday 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 commissioned by a research group funded by major German auto companies.

Volkswagen Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch said 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.

The Times report was followed by one in Monday’s edition of the Stuttgarter Zeitung daily that the now-closed research group also commissioned tests in which humans were exposed to nitrogen dioxide, which belongs to a class of pollutants known as nitrogen oxides.

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