Volkswagen AG suspended chief lobbyist Thomas Steg on Tuesday as its “first consequences as a result of animal tests.” If you’ll recall, German automakers were faulted with funding experiments on monkeys (and also people) that haven’t gone over well in the media. Both Daimler and VW say they will conduct investigations to get to the bottom of how something like this could have happened.
At its meeting today, Volkswagen Group’s Board of Management accepted a proposal made by Steg, who heads external relations and sustainability, that he be suspended until a full investigation is completed.
“We are currently in the process of investigating the work of the EUGT, which was dissolved in 2017, and drawing all the necessary consequences. Mr. Steg has declared that he will assume full responsibility. I respect his decision,” said Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller in a statement.
Over the weekend, we reported that German automakers funded research where monkeys were exposed to diesel exhaust fumes from an emissions-cheating VW Beetle. Volkswagen Group, Daimler and BMW all condemned the study — claiming to be appalled by the logistics employed for research they were funding.
Apparently, the situation is a little darker than we first thought. In addition to gassing 10 monkeys, the group hired by automakers to prove the worth of diesel was also testing on human beings. The European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT) had 25 people inhaling a gaseous byproduct of diesel combustion at a clinic used by the University of Aachen in 2016.
German automakers were faulted with animal cruelty after details emerged that the European Research Group (EUGT) on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector had been gassing monkeys with diesel fumes this week. While this is probably the least egregious example of a German gas chamber in let’s say the last seventy years or so, it doesn’t change the fact that there remain some extremely negative connotations.
People don’t like the idea of testing on animals, especially not cute ones that look like us. Germany may not be taking the full-blame on this faux pas in morality, however. EUGT had commissioned the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute (LRRI) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to establish if diesel exhaust fumes were carcinogenic — and that’s where ten monkeys were isolated in airtight chambers, inhaling fumes from a diesel Volkswagen Beetle as they watched cartoons.