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German automakers funded diesel emissions tests on humans, local media says

German automakers funded diesel emissions tests on humans, local media says

The New York 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 pollutant known as nitrogen oxides.

The German government said on Monday that any auto emissions testing on monkeys or people was unjustifiable.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said that "the disgust many people are feeling is absolutely understandable".

"Vile", is how German environment minister Barbara Hendricks described the revealed experiments. In an official statement, the automaker has apologised for "the lack of judgement of individuals" involved in ordering the tests, and admits that "the scientific methods chosen then were wrong".

According to The New York Times, the court documents - which have not been made available and have not been viewed by CarAdvice - confirm that a European research group funded by Volkswagen, Daimler, BMW and Bosch, had contracted an American organisation to use macaque monkeys in tests devised to prove that newer diesel vehicles were far cleaner than older examples. But the VW cars in the study used software that cheated on emissions.

The secret experiments, which took place in both the USA and Germany, were part of a "clean diesel" research initiative funded by Volkswagen, the world's largest automaker, with BMW and Daimler.

The tests haven't had any negative consequences for the health of either the animals or the humans, but the news has caused public outcry, with many people arguing that those responsible for the initiative must be punished.

BMW told the press that it had not participated in the studies cited in media and had launched an "immediate internal investigation" into the work of EUGT.

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In an email to Automotive News, Daimler said, "We are appalled by the extent of the studies and their implementation".

The EUGT was shut down a year ago but the Times said it was part of a "prolonged, well-financed effort to produce academic research that they [German automakers] hoped would influence political debate and preserve tax privileges for diesel fuel".

BMW, while distancing itself from the studies, said the assessment of the trial at Aachen University before an independent body with appropriate expertise - such as the ethics commission - should be taken into account.

BMW and Daimler have both admitted to sponsoring the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector, although both claim they knew nothing of the eventual ten-monkeys-and-Beetle experiment conducted in America.

News of the medical test in Germany has awakened uncomfortable memories of the Third Reich.

Thus headlines like "VW gases humans" has a awful ring to it in German ears, particularly for Stephan Weil, state premiere of Lower Saxony, a shareholder in the German auto company with Nazi origins.

For his part, chairman of supervisory Board of Volkswagen, Hans Dieter Pötsch, has distanced himself from experiments.

The New York Times said EUGT had commissioned a study to defend the use of diesel after the World Health Organization said the fuel's exhaust fumes were carcinogenic.

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