It’s not a good look for a German company...

Prepare yourself, because the rabbit hole that is the Diesel Gate scandal just got a little deeper. According to a recent report from The New York Times, Germany’s “Big Three Automakers” funded a study in 2014 that aimed at proving the safety of diesel emissions by sealing off a group of monkeys in an airtight chamber pumped full of diesel emissions. Apparently, the diesel model in question, a VW Beetle, was manipulated to create less pollution in lab tests than it would on the street, much like the defeat devices associated with the Diesel Gate scandal.

Continue reading for the full story.

The Full Story

What Is Diesel Gate Again?

Volkswagen Diesel Scandal Explained
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Before we get to the meat of the story, let’s start with a quick refresher.

Back in 2015, the EPA issued a violation notice to the Volkswagen Group stating that the German auto behemoth had intentionally cheated on emissions tests by installing special software, otherwise known as “defeat devices,” that would recognize when the engine was undergoing a laboratory emissions test, and subsequently dial back the harmful nitrogen-oxide emissions. As a result, the diesels would run squeaky-clean in the lab, but spew out 40 times more NOx on the street.

In the end, Volkswagen plead guilty to fraud and conspiracy charges, and was forced to pay over $26 billion in fines.

Corporate Interests Once Again Wreak Havoc

Volkswagen Diesel Scandal Explained
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It's alleged that an experiment took place in which ten monkeys were locked in an airtight chamber. There the monkeys watched cartoons for four hours while the chamber was pumped full of diesel fumes in an effort to prove the safety of modern diesel engines.

Obviously, the Diesel Gate scandal was bad news all around, but this latest revelation adds a particularly nasty twist to it – and this time, it involves BMW and Daimler as well.

According to a recent report from The New York Times, all three of the big German automakers (VW, Daimler, and BMW) were funding morally questionable “research” that would help promote diesel engines in a favorable light.

Back in 2014, in a laboratory at the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico, it’s alleged that an experiment took place in which ten monkeys were locked in an airtight chamber. There the monkeys watched cartoons for four hours while the chamber was pumped full of diesel fumes in an effort to prove the safety of modern diesel engines.

While the experiment is certainly morally questionable in and of itself, there’s even more to the story. Unbeknownst to the scientists conducting the research, the vehicle creating the fumes, a newer VW Beetle, had been manipulated to create fewer harmful emissions than on the street, much like the defeat devices involved in the infamous Diesel Gate scandal.

While you could see that as good news for the monkeys forced to breathe fumes, it certainly makes the results of the experiment invalid in terms of any real-world application.

The revelations were made following a lawsuit against VW here in the U.S., shedding light on the practices of industry-backed academic research by the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector, or E.U.G.T., an organization funded exclusively by BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen. The organization was shut down last year following controversy over its work, and the monkey diesel emission study was never published.

According to The New York Times report, previous work by the E.U.G.T. included research that opposed the World Health Organization's decision in 2012 to classify diesel exhaust as a carcinogen.

According to The New York Times report, previous work by the E.U.G.T. included research that opposed the World Health Organization’s decision in 2012 to classify diesel exhaust as a carcinogen, as well as studies that aimed to question whether banning older diesels would reduce pollution in cities, and other politically motivated research.

The news prompted analysts to draw comparisons to other industries, such as tobacco. “There are a lot of parallels between the industries in the way they try to downplay the harm and encourage people to become addicted,” said Margaret Douglas, chairwoman to the panel that advises the Scottish public heath system on pollution issues, in an interview with The New York Times.

Initially, BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen defended the work, with Daimler stating: “All of the research work commissioned with the E.U.G.T. was accompanied and reviewed by a research advisory committee consisting of scientists from renowned universities and research institutes.”

Last Saturday, however, the companies reversed their stance and condemned the research in a series of statements. BMW and Daimler also stated they were not aware that the Beetle used in the monkey tests was configured to produce lower-than-normal emissions.

References

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Source: The New York Times

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