VW pledges rules to ensure moral and ethical behaviour after latest reputational damage

A car with the Volkswagen VW logo badge is seen on display at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., January 16, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

BERLIN (Reuters) - Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE will take steps to bring its academic research projects into line with moral standards, the carmaker said on Friday, seeking to demonstrate that lessons have been learnt from the latest Dieselgate aftershock.

Europe's largest automaker has been at the centre of public outrage in Germany over a study that the company and peers BMW BMWG.DE and Daimler DAIGn.DE had funded, involving research that exposed monkeys and humans to toxid diesel fumes.

With VW still suffering fallout from its 2015 admission to cheating U.S. diesel emissions tests, the company was roundly criticised for showing a blatant lack of moral and ethical judgement that undermined its pledge to become more accountable. VW’s chief lobbyist was suspended over the affair.

“All global research activities are to be compared with current ethic and moral principles of the VW group and, in the next step, brought into line,” a VW spokesman said late on Friday.

Critics said that emissions-related research projects sponsored by automakers are mainly designed to discredit regulation and prove limited environmental damage from diesel engines and related technologies.

Wolfsburg-based VW said it is engaged in nearly 1,300 projects in Germany with universities and research institutes.

To prevent a recurrence of experiments such as the diesel fumes tests involving monkeys and humans, VW’s top management has proposed to introduce a set of rules to enable staff to decide whether certain actions are morally and ethically proper, VW said.

Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by David Goodman