Volkswagen, Mercedes and BMW have provided funding to a group of researchers who, among other things, conducted research into the effects of diesel emissions in Germany. The three automakers claim they did not know how the experiments would run.
Volkswagen, Mercedes and BMW, three of Germany’s most important carmakers, are at the heart of a new scandal that broke out last week and was on the rise in the course of Monday.
Stuttgarter Zeitung quotes a report by a research group called the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector, known as EUGT, who conducted a human study at a clinic used by the University of Aachen (Germany).
In this study, 25 young people have voluntarily inspired various concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) for several hours, and the final report shows that researchers have not detected any effect on their health.
The EUGT group was founded by Volkswagen, Mercedes and BMW in 2007, and the three automakers provided funding for the work of researchers. However, the manufacturers claim that they did not have any influence and were not aware of the methods applied by the researchers in the studies carried out during the 10 years of existence of the group, which was closed in 2017.
The new information published by Stuttgarter Zeitung comes just days after the New York Times reported that the same three car manufacturers have funded in 2014 a study that exposed ten monkeys to diesel exhaust. The tests were conducted in New Mexico, and wanted to identify the effects of diesel emissions on health. In the 2014, besides Volkswagen, Daimler, BMW and Bosch also financed the study.
Volkswagen, Mercedes and BMW condemned the tests on humans
The automakers quickly reacted to the investigations conducted by the New York Times and the Stuttgarter Zeitung. Automotive News cites a Mercedes-Benz e-mail message in which the builder has condemned the experiments conducted within the group in hard terms.
“We are dismayed by the scale of the tests and their implementation. We did not have any influence on the study and we promise to do an investigation. We condemn the experiments in the toughest terms,” says Mercedes.
Volkswagen also submitted a press release that refers only to tests performed on monkeys. “We apologize for this misguided gesture and for the lack of judgment of the people involved. We are convinced that the scientific methods chosen at that time were wrong. It would have been better if this study had not taken place,” said Volkswagen.
BMW also claims that it has not carried out any human or animal test and strongly disapproves of these practices. “The BMW Group does not carry out such tests on animals or humans. The BMW Group did not participate in the above-mentioned studies and is firmly distanced from these studies, so we can not comment on the details, duration or purpose of these studies. in no way designing and building its cars on studies conducted by EUGT,” says BMW officials.
Hypothesis about the purpose of the diesel exhaust tests
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) inspired by the 25 young people is a toxic gas that is part of the nitrogen oxides, generically marked with NOx. Nitrogen oxides were at the center of the famous Dieselgate scandal, as the quantities emitted by some diesel engines far exceeded the maximum limit of 80 milligrams per kilometer imposed.
At the time of the Dieselgate scandal, the researchers pointed out that nitrogen oxides have negative effects on human health. Therefore, in the light of the new scandal, it is possible that the human tests have had the role of specifically highlighting the effect of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) on health.