Top executives at German carmakers are falling like flies after news broke that the companies sponsored tests on animals to demonstrate the harmlessness of diesel emissions. The unfolding drama shows the tests were elaborate public relations exercises masquerading as scientific experiments.
After Volkswagen suspended lobbyist Thomas Steg on Tuesday, Daimler furloughed Udo Hartmann, head of environmental protection at the maker of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, on Wednesday and BMW suspended Frank Hansen, head of its urban mobility business unit. Both men sat on the board of the now-infamous European Research Association on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector, or EUGT, which hired a New Mexico research laboratory to conduct the emissions tests on monkeys.
The latest damaging revelations in the Dieselgate scandal come as German authorities conducted raids in homes of six suspects, looking for evidence that Audi’s efforts to manipulate emissions were wider in scope than previously thought. The number of vehicles sold by the VW unit under fraudulent premises in the US is now suspected to be 250,000, instead of just 80,000.