An internal board has demanded an immediate investigation.
Volkswagen's managing board has demanded an enquiry how controversial emissions tests on monkeys were able to take place between 2014 and 2017.
The tests, which were carried out by the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in New Mexico, saw monkeys kept in airtight chambers and forced to inhale fumes from a diesel-engined Beetle to try and find evidence to defend the quality of diesel fumes and refute a ruling by the WHO that the fumes are carcinogenic. The tests were commissioned by the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT).
'I will do everything possible to ensure that this matter is investigated in detail,' said Volkswagen supervisory board chairman Hans Dieter Pötsch. 'Whoever is responsible for this must of course be held accountable.'
The EUGT was funded by Volkswagen, BMW, and Mercedes owner Daimler, and all three have since denounced the tests – the EUGT was already disbanded in 2017 over controversy about its methods – and Volkswagen has even gone so far as to publicly declare that it will never test with animals again.
'We want to absolutely rule out testing on animals for the future so that this doesn’t happen again,' Thomas Steg, VW’s chief lobbyist, told German daily Bild. Steg has since been suspended from his role pending an investigation – he was in charge of the relationship with EUGT and helped come up with the idea for the experiment.
Volkswagen has admitted that other members of staff – including some in its legal department, at the VW brand’s technical development division and at Volkswagen America – were aware of the tests at the time, but the company has so far refused to name them, and has claimed that the controversial tests were never discussed at board level.
The German government has even stepped in to condemn the tests. 'These tests on monkeys or even people are in no ethical way justifiable and raise many critical questions about those who are behind the tests,' a government spokesman told a news conference in Berlin.