Volkswagen, the world’s biggest carmaker, is under fire globally from politicians and environmentalists following revelations it helped to fund experiments in which monkeys and humans breathed in car fumes for hours at a time.
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said there was an urgent need for the company to reveal the true extent of the experiments, which were commissioned by the European Research Group of Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT), a body funded by Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW.
“These tests on monkeys or even on humans are not ethically justifiable in any shape or form,” her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said on Monday. “The indignation of many people is absolutely understandable.”
VW is already under heavy scrutiny over its role in the “dieselgate” scandal, in which the carmaker manipulated tests on about 11m cars worldwide to make it appear they met air emissions tests, when in reality they exceeded them many times over when used on the road.
The company said on Monday a small internal group had mistakenly pushed for the tests to be carried out and that they did not reflect VW’s ethos. But industry observers said VW’s excuses held little water, as the experiments had been well-documented and the results presented to managers at BMW, Daimler and VW, all of whom belonged to the EUGT, a car lobby group, which has since been disbanded.