Volkswagen Suspends Chief Lobbyist, Attempts to Save Face Over Monkey Gassing
Another PR disaster for the German companyby Jonathan Lopez, on
The Volkswagen Group is scrambling to salvage its public image amid reports that in 2014 the company funded research on diesel emissions that involved sealing monkeys in an airtight chamber pumped full of exhaust fumes. As a result, VW’s chief lobbyist, Thomas Steg, has taken a leave of absence.
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Volkswagen is doing an about-face and condemning the research, and VW's chief lobbyist, Thomas Steg, is the first to feel the heat.
Yesterday, we reported on a news story that Volkswagen, BMW, and Daimler financed an experiment back in 2014 wherein a group of monkeys were locked in an airtight chamber and forced to inhale diesel exhaust fumes in an effort to provide evidence that modern oil burners were cleaner than their forerunners.
Obviously, a headline like that raises a number of questions over the moral implications of such an experiment. Now, Volkswagen is doing an about-face and condemning the research, and VW’s chief lobbyist, Thomas Steg, is the first to feel the heat. As a result, he has requested a leave of absence.
“We are currently in the process of investigating,” said VW CEO Matthias Mueller, as reported by Automotive News. “Mr. Steg has declared that he will assume full responsibility. I respect his decision.”
Mr. Steg will remain suspended until VW has completed its investigation. Mr. Steg has been VW’s chief lobbyist since 2012.
Mr. Mueller has also issued an apology, condemning the experiment as “unethical and repulsive” and adding that “there is still a long way ahead of us to regain lost trust.” Mr. Mueller took the VW reins from Martin Winterkorn in 2015, and Mr. Steg has stated that Mr. Mueller was unaware of the experiments during his tenure as VW chief.
The emails reveal an experiment funded by the E.U.G.T. - funds that were derived from the three big German automakers – BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen.
The monkey gassing scandal broke following the reveal of a series of emails uncovered as part of a lawsuit against VW here in the U.S. The emails show that Mr. Steg was informed of an experiment funded by the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (E.U.G.T.) with the aim of contradicting the World Health Organization’s classification of diesel exhaust fumes as a carcinogen, part of the organization’s industry-backed academic research efforts carrying obvious political motivation.
The E.U.G.T. derived all of its funding from the three big German automakers – BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen. So far, Volkswagen seems to be taking the majority of the heat in this scandal.
The monkey gassing experiment occurred in 2014 at a laboratory at the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Mr. Steg told the German newspaper Bild that the experiment met international scientific standards and ethics standards in the U.S.
The revelations have caused a huge backlash in Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government issued a response condemning the experiments.
Mr. Steg told the German newspaper Bild that the experiment met international scientific standards and ethics standards in the U.S. At the same time, he said he regretted the experiment. “From today’s perspective, the experiment should not have been carried out, even under different conditions,”Mr. Steg told the newspaper, adding, “This has nothing to do with scientific learning.”
This most recent scandal follows hot on the heels of VW’s ongoing battle to regain public trust following the infamous Diesel Gate scandal. However, VW’s sales have been stellar all the same, with the auto behemoth posting record numbers in 2017.
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Source: Automotive News