Volkswagen Funded Cruel Study Forcing Monkeys to Breathe Diesel Fumes

If you love animals, think twice about which car you choose to buy. Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW have recently been exposed for funding a cruel study involving monkeys.

The three automakers confirmed that their research/lobbying group, EUGT, commissioned a 2014 experiment that forced 10 monkeys to breathe toxic automobile diesel exhaust fumes.

The tests were simple and ruthless. Researchers put the monkeys into cages in an airtight space. They turned on cartoons to keep the animals entertained and then pumped the spaces full of exhaust fumes from a diesel VW Beetle TDI over the course of eight hours. A second control group of monkeys had to breathe fumes from a 1997 diesel Ford pickup.

After suffering for hours in a room without access to clean air, all those monkeys were presumably killed so a necropsy could be performed to examine their lungs. This work occurred at the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

Photo credit: Thinkstock

What was the point of all this? Ultimately, to prove that the diesel fuel of today is cleaner than the smelly, cough-inducing diesel we remember from years ago.

Why did they need to prove this? Well, for money, of course. EUGT — the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector — hoped its studies would cast doubt on the 2012 pronouncement by the World Health Organization that diesel exhaust is a carcinogen.

Daimler, BMW and VW needed this research to “influence political debate and preserve tax privileges for diesel fuel,” according to The New York Times.

The final irony is that those 10 monkeys suffered for nothing. You see, it turns out that EUGT’s researchers were using a VW Beetle that was outfitted to produce a false, more positive result.

That test vehicle emitted exhaust levels that were lower and less harmful than the emissions we’d expect a normal roadworthy diesel Beetle to spew. Yes, it’s another VW diesel cheating scandal, if you can believe it.

The last one, you’ll recall, happened in 2015. There too, VW vehicles were programmed to cheat. In that case, it was by means of “defeat devices.” The cars’ software “understood” when the car was undergoing emissions testing and when it was just driving normally. When being tested, the cars strictly controlled how much diesel pollution they produced. Those same controls weren’t functional when the cars were on the road.

Testers discovered VW diesel vehicles actually emitted about 40 times the allowable levels of nitrogen oxides. Scandal ensued. VW had to fix or buy back millions of vehicles at a staggering cost.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

Photo credit: Thinkstock

Wait, though — there’s even more irony here, which I’m sure those dead monkeys would appreciate.

Even though the EUGT-hired researchers used exhaust from a rigged Beetle, it appears they didn’t get the highly positive results they were hoping for. They apparently ended up proving that today’s diesel exhaust is worse for us than the exhaust from a 20-year-old diesel truck.

So far, Daimler and BMW haven’t said much — except that they didn’t know what EUGT was doing. Daimler issued a statement reading: “We believe the animal tests in this study were unnecessary and repulsive. We explicitly distance ourselves from the study.”

Volkswagen, however, has admitted responsibility and apologized — both for the emissions cheating and for using the monkeys in such a terrible way.

“Over the weekend we had to learn once more that there is still a long way ahead of us to regain lost trust,” Matthias Mueller, VW CEO, said publicly about the testing. “The methods used by EUGT in the United States were wrong, they were unethical and repulsive. I am sorry that Volkswagen was involved in the matter as one of the sponsors of EUGT.”

Heads are now rolling at all three carmakers in the wake of this scandal. VW suspended its head of external relations and sustainability, Thomas Steg, who said he’d know about this experiment. Meanwhile, Daimler’s head of environmental protection, Udo Hartmann, and Frank Hansen, BMW’s head of urban mobility, were both suspended as internal investigations proceed.

Take Action!

Once again, outrage on social media on behalf of the innocent animals brought the necessary pressure to bear. VW admitted wrongdoing and apologized.  If you want to tell VW never to test on animals again, please sign this Care2 petition.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Marie W
Marie W6 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

Judy t
Judy thorpeabout a year ago

VW apologized, that's not going to sugar-coat for the abuse done to the innocent monkeys. Turning on cartoons then torturing them. Appalling! The researchers and everyone else already knows since the automobile has been invented that breathing toxic fumes is dangerous. Or are they just now figuring this out?! What part about a car they don't understand?

heather g
heather gabout a year ago

Signed some time ago

Georgina McAllister
Georgina Elizab Mabout a year ago

petition signed tyfs

Sonia M
Sonia Mabout a year ago

Petition signed thanks for sharing

Julie D
Julie Dabout a year ago

So cruel and horrifying, so sad.

Ruth S
Ruth Sabout a year ago


Marija M
Marija Mabout a year ago

petition signed, tks

Jana DiCarlo
Jana DiCarloabout a year ago

Do we really need a "monkeytest" to tell us breathing fumes is not good? seriously?
It sounds more like big business just doing experiments for the sake of churning the money mill - it is big business breeding the animals, and feeding them, the scientist wages, - the whole sordid business of it is big bucks, and they will dream up any idiot experiment for $$
shame on them, disgusting.

Cathy B
Cathy Babout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.