In order to establish that diesel emissions were not harmful, Volkswagen got a lab in Albuquerque, put 10 monkeys in airtight chambers (with cartoons playing to entertain them), and then pumped in emissions from a VW Beetle. The goal was to show that diesel emissions were not harmful to monkeys (ergo, they were not harmful to humans). Since VW had, at the time, put all its eggs into the fuel-efficient Diesel engine, it needed to get in on the public policy arguments about the effects of inhalation of diesel smoke. Mixed metaphors aside, you cannot put VW and emissions tests together in a room and assume accuracy. The VW used for the monkey tests had been set up to produce false data on the diesel emissions. Just like all the cars VW sold — actual emissions levels were altered by a software program installed in the vehicles.
The scientists conducting the academic tests were not aware of the emissions doctoring. The Beetle had controls on the emission of nitrogen dioxide — the pollutant linked to asthma, bronchitis, heart attacks, and possibly lung cancer. Ironically, even with the controls, the studies were a bust. The scientists could not produce a paper for publication, a requirement for receiving their final payment. There was no paper because the emissions falsifications in most VW vehicles (for which VW paid $26 billion in fines) came to light. The head of the Albuquerque testing concluded, “I feel like a chump.” Jack Ewing, “In Diesel Study, Real Monkeys, But Rigged VW,” New York Times, January 26, 2018, p. A9.