Volkswagen on Tuesday suspended its chief lobbyist Thomas Steg over allegations that live subjects were tested for prolonged exposure to vehicle emissions.
VW co-financed tests by the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT) alongside other carmakers. The trials carried out by the think tank included 10 caged monkeys and separate trials on humans, according to media reports this month.
VW said Steg would be suspended from his post until the matter has been investigated.
“We are currently in the process of investigating the work of the EUGT, which was dissolved in 2017, and drawing all the necessary consequences,” VW’s CEO Matthias Müller said in a statement. “Mr Steg has declared that he will assume full responsibility. I respect his decision.”
Jens Hanefeld, who is currently responsible for international and European policy at VW, will assume Steg’s duties on an interim basis.
German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks today called the tests “irresponsible” and “unethical.” Speaking to reporters in Brussels after an air pollution summit with Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella, she pointed out the many pollution scandals that have hit the car industry — and wondered why people in the sector “are apparently not fully aware of the responsibility of their actions.”