The German automakers at the heart of a scandal that tests on humans and monkeys

News 29 January, 2018
  • AFP

    Monday, January 29, 2018 09:10

    Monday, January 29, 2018 09:16

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    The scandal of the diesel engines comes back to haunt the German manufacturers after revelations about tests for apes and humans to measure the impact of the fumes from the diesel, tarnishing further the image of the automotive sector.

    Such experiences “are unjustifiable from an ethical point of view,” said on Monday, Steffen Seibert, spokesman of chancellor Angela Merkel, demanding explanations of the groups involved.

    “The confidence in the automotive industry is again wounded,” said the minister of Transport and Agriculture, Christian Schmidt, for whom these experiences “should only be used in the promotion” of the builders.

    He announced that the builders will be summoned to appear before the commission of inquiry ministerial in charge of the scandal of diesel, and respondent companies “to immediately discontinue this type of testing” is it there yet.

    Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler, and automotive supplier Bosch is facing two separate cases but revealed quasi-simultaneously, involving both a body of research that they funded, the EUGT, closed since a year.

    The first scandal, revealed by the New York Times, focuses on tests conducted in the United States on ten monkeys in 2014, locked up in front of cartoons while we had them breathe in the smoke emitted by a Beetle, successor to the volkswagen Beetle, flagship model of Volkswagen.

    The goal was “to prove that the diesel vehicles of recent technology are cleaner than the old models,” says the daily, the key argument of the manufacturers to penetrate the u.s. market.

    Nothing to see

    But while Volkswagen had responded as of Saturday, taking “its distances with any form of animal abuse”, the newspapers Stuttgarter Zeitung and the Süddeutsche Zeitung suggested on Monday other tests, this time in Germany, and human beings.

    A hospital institute of Aix-la-Chapelle, commissioned by the EUGT, was made to inhale in 2013 and 2014 of the nitrogen dioxide (NO2) to up to 25 people in good health, at various concentrations, detail the two newspapers.

    This study “has nothing to do with the scandal of the diesel”, which strikes for the past two years many manufacturers including Volkswagen, not more than with the tests on the monkeys, defended on Monday the institute.

    The aim was to measure the effect of exposure to NO2 in the workplace, “for example, drivers of trucks, mechanics or welders”, to recommend a possible lowering of the threshold regulations, explains the institute.

    The study concluded that there was no “significant effect” of this gas, the most harmful of the oxides of nitrogen emitted notably by diesel engines, although the world health Organization combines a multitude of cardiovascular disorders and respiratory.

    Thomas Kraus, one of the leaders of the university hospital of Aix-la-Chapelle, has however, put into perspective the scope in the German media, saying that the study does not take into account the general pollution and was not representative of the population.


    Daimler is on its side “distanced himself expressly to the study and the EUGT”, according to a spokesperson interviewed by the AFP, while BMW has denied having taken part in it. Volkswagen has assured that an “independent scientific council” set out the research themes “very varied” of this organization, which was founded in 2007 by the German groups.

    But none of these statements has not been enough to extinguish the controversy, reigniting the crisis of confidence that hits the major manufacturers since the revelation of the rigging on a large scale of their diesel engines.

    At the end of 2015, the Volkswagen group were recognized to have equipped 11 million of its diesel cars, a software that distort the results of the tests anti-pollution and concealing of nitrogen oxide emissions in excess of up to 40 times the approved standards.

    In the wake of the “dieselgate”, the German manufacturers have decided to put an end to the activity of the UEGT, which is currently in liquidation.

    This new case “will affect a sustainable manner the confidence of the people towards the automotive industry,” said to the AFP Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, director Center Automotive Research.