German car manufacturers also tested diesel emissions on humans, report finds

A view of a Volkswagen badge at a dealership in Ashford, Kent, as the company says 11 million vehicles worldwide are involved in a scandal surrounding emissions.

New revelations have left the German government criticising its indigenous car manufacturers, after discovering that a research group funded by Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW tested the effects of diesel fumes on humans.

The reports come just a day after the group was revealed to have tested the results of exhaust fumes on monkeys. The European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT) locked ten monkeys into airtight containers and forced them to breathe in exhaust fumes from a diesel VW Beetle.

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The same group has now been revealed to have conducted a similar experiment on 25 human volunteers at Aachen university hospital in Germany.

The German government has now called a meeting with the three manufacturers funding the group to ask them to explain themselves. They include the VW Group, which is one of the largest manufacturers in the world and encompasses Volkswagen, Skoda, Seat, Porsche and Audi. The other two are Daimler, which makes Mercedes and smart vehicles, and BMW Group, which makes BMWs and Minis.

Christian Schmidt, the acting transport minister, said: "This has once again damaged trust in the auto industry."

In Septemer 2015, the VW Group in particular was hit by a massive emissions scandal involving diesel vehicles. The group was found guilty of illegally manipulating emissions software to provide lower readings under official test conditions. Once out on the roads, the cars emitted vast amounts of toxic Nitrous Oxides – a major contributor to local air pollution.

"The tests on monkeys or humans are in no way ethically justified," said Steffen Seibert, Angela Merkel's spokesman. "The indignation felt by many people is completely understandable."

All three manufacturers distanced themselves from the EUGT research, which closed in 2016. Though the group was financed by the manufacturers, all three have stressed they had no part in influencing the survey.

A Daimler spokesman said: "We are appalled by the extent of the studies and their implementation. We condemn the experiments in the strongest terms. Even though Daimler did not have influence on the study's design, we have launched a comprehensive investigation into the matter."

Volkswagen apologised and said that it "distances itself clearly from all forms of animal abuse".

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