Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, BMW Dragged in Animal Cruelty Controversy

  • Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, BMW Dragged in Animal Cruelty Controversy

Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, BMW Dragged in Animal Cruelty Controversy

The charity's comments come in the wake of a report by the New York Times that a research group funded by vehicle companies exposed monkeys to diesel exhaust fumes from a late model Volkswagen, while another group was exposed to fumes from an older Ford pick-up truck.

The studies were commissioned by an organisation known as the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT), financed by VW alongside fellow German auto sector stalwarts BMW and Daimler - the Mercedes-Benz parent firm.

That "monkey experiment" took place in New Mexico in America, and aimed to observe the impact of diesel exhaust emissions on monkeys.

The German car-makers are attempting to distance themselves again from the latest revelations, with all three responding swiftly to the Aachen study, in which people were exposed to high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), revealed in the Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper.

A statement from Daimler claims that the company believed the European research group's work to be above-board. "We're convinced the scientific methods chosen then were wrong".

According to the NYT article, the researchers locked 10 monkeys into airtight chambers and made them breathe in diesel exhausts from a VW Beetle while watching cartoons.

The goal was to prove that various technologies to improve diesel emissions were working. After subjecting them to this abuse, experimenters cut out samples of their lung tissue to check for inflammation.

In 2011, LRRI was cited for six violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act-including for the strangulation death of a monkey who became caught on an experimental jacket and for the escape of an infant monkey-and fined $21,750.

Reports of the tests, following a New York Times account of similar experiments on monkeys in the USA, triggered political recriminations and had automakers scrambling to distance themselves. The company's supervisory board, in the meantime, has also ordered a probe into who ordered the tests, even as the German government calls the research "unjustifiable".

Dieselgate has revved back into life with revelations that German vehicle manufacturers carried out medical tests on humans using exhaust fumes.

"I'll do everything so that these events will be fully investigated", Volkswagen Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch said in an emailed statement.

VW has been under heavy scrutiny in recent years over its role in a decade-long diesel emissions cheating scandal, in which the company manipulated its diesel cars to hide how much pollution they were emitting.

In a statement on its website, Daimler said it was "appalled" by reports of the extent of the study, and is "expressly distancing" itself from the EUGT, adding that it "condemns the experiment in the strongest terms". However, a report of the study's findings was not submitted.

Such tests could not be justified, the government said, demanding details.

VW has already apologized for the experiments conducted on monkeys.

The tests from German companies are particularly striking, as during the Holocaust the Nazis killed people by pumping exhaust gas into sealed "gas vans".

The experiments would have been carried out in 2015 and a Volkswagen manager, now detained in the United States for the emissions data manipulation scandal, would have personally brought a VW Beatle to the laboratory.