Using a 2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI with a cheat device no less.
A conclusion still needs to be reached in the collusion case between BMW, Volkswagen, and Mercedes after the three automakers were accused of setting prices and even sharing components to maximize profit, but all the of Germany’s large automakers—BMW, Mercedes, and Volkswagen—have now been tied together in a scandal and PR nightmare that involves, once again, diesels. This time it blows past conventional illegality and straight into the territory of immorality.
The trio managed this triple whammy by intentionally subjecting human and monkey test subjects to diesel smoke to see what effects the combustion byproducts had on them. According to a report by German newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung, Germany's Big Three have endangered the lives of humans and our ancestral cousins by forming a group called the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT). It then used the group to sponsor studies on the effects of breathing diesel exhaust fumes on people at the University of Aachen and on monkeys at the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The former tests were conducted between 2013 and 2014 and involved having 25 people breathe diesel exhaust fumes. Stuttgarter Zeitung claims that the human trials were intended to investigate "biological effects of inhaled nitrogen dioxide in healthy human subjects.” Reports about the studies sound bad, but the university claims the aim of the experiment was to improve job safety by looking into the types of gases workers like truck driver inhale while on the job. Aachen University also mentioned that the participants weren’t inhaling large quantities and that the study had been approved by its own ethics committee. Unfortunately for all three manufacturers, or rather their non-human test victims, the Aachen human trials weren’t the end of it.
Over at the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in New Mexico, Netflix documentary Dirty Money claims that VW, BMW, and Daimler used the same organization to fund a similar study conducted on 10 caged monkeys. Adding insult to injury, the fumes for this test came from a 2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI loaded with VW’s signature cheat software, potentially making it so that the monkeys experienced exhaust gases less harmful than what affected TDI Volkswagens emitted. Researchers conducted the experiments by feeding fumes into clear boxes with the monkeys inside, which were watching cartoons during the test.
After they inhaled fumes from the Beetle, researchers piped in exhaust from an old diesel Ford F-250 for comparison. All three automakers have been quick to distance themselves from the accusations, claiming they don’t condone animal cruelty. Though the the monkey study was conducted by the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, three quarters of a million dollars of funding came from the automakers indirectly through the EUGT fund. And then there’s the fact that Volkswagen asked for real-time access to the results of tests that involved the diesel Beetle, which could be interpreted as checking in to make sure the cheat device was working they way it was intended.
We’ll wait until the innocent are proven guilty to ream these automakers from behind a keyboard, but so far it’s not looking too good for the integrity of the German auto industry.