By on July 22, 2013

SONY DSC

When we last reported on France banning some Mercedes-Benz vehicles because the company refuses to use the now mandated R1234yf refrigerant, representatives from all 28 EU member states were scheduled to meet with the EU’s Technical Committee on Motor Vehicles to discuss the matter, particularly as it regards the sale of M-B vehicles in the 27 other EU countries besides France. That meeting has since taken place and according to a memo issued by the European Commission, those representatives have confirmed that all new vehicles sold throughout the EU must use R1234yf, and that any vehicles with the now banned R134a must be withdrawn from the market in all EU states. The dispute is over the fire safety of the new refrigerant. R134a was banned because it is considered a greenhouse gas.

The EU’s statement from its Technical Committee on Motor Vehicles seems to criticize Germany’s Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (Federal Motor Transport Authority), upon whose certification of Mercedes-Benz A-class, B-class and SL cars built since June, Daimler has been relying to sell the cars in Europe outside of Germany. “National authorities” and the manufacturers they regulate were told they must find “effective solutions to ensure the safety of European citizens” and the goals of climate objectives and a fair, competitive market (emphasis added).

Since the statement from the EU tells member states that “corrective measures shall be taken to bring the vehicles in conformity including the withdrawal of those non-conforming vehicles already sold on the market, as has already been done by a Member State,” Mercedes-Benz can probably expect sales of those cars to be blocked across the continent.

Full EU Commission Memo below:

European Commission

MEMO

Brussels, 17 July 2013

The Technical Committee on Motor Vehicles supports the European Commission approach to the MAC affair

The Technical Committee on Motor Vehicles met today in a very constructive and positive atmosphere. The European Commission and the competent authorities of the 28 Member States discussed the current situation regarding the implementation of Directive 2006/40/EC on mobile air conditioning (MAC Directive).

There was a general consensus that, within their respective responsibilities, the national authorities and the vehicle manufacturers will have to find effective solutions to ensure the safety of European citizens, the achievement of the climate objectives of the Directive, and the good functioning of and fair competition in the internal market, in full respect of the requirements of the EU legal framework.

Member Stats acknowledged that, regarding the vehicles which do not conform to EU law, corrective measures shall be taken to bring the vehicles in conformity including the withdrawal of those non-conforming vehicles already sold on the market, as has already been done by a Member State.

The European Commission is committed to continue discussions with Member States in the coming weeks with a view to finding appropriate solutions.

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11 Comments on “Daimler Loses Another Round With EU Over R1234yf, Ban on Sale of R134a Equipped M-B Cars Likely to Spread Throughout Europe...”


  • avatar
    retrogrouch

    Don’t forget why Daimler hates this stuff:
    Link to Reuters http://goo.gl/cRa01G

    I believe Daimler is genuinely concerned about safety which is why they are still putting up a fight. They have contributed greatly to automotive safety over the past few decades so I will give them the benefit of the doubt. It would be nice if a 3rd party did some testing. It’s not that I don’t trust DuPont or Honeywell. Well, I guess I don’t.

  • avatar
    mike1dog

    I think Diamler doesn’t have a leg to stand on. The SAE released a statement after testing it itself:

    “The Daimler testing did not include any actual vehicle collisions or the mitigating factors that occur in an actual collision,” says the CRP team. “These factors include the quenching effect of front end compartment deformation, the extinguishing effect of steam released due to radiator breakage, and dispersion of the refrigerant from the condenser outside the engine compartment. Daimler’s refrigerant release apparatus and nozzle does not represent actual crash-damaged refrigerant lines, and was found to be artificial.”

    • 0 avatar
      retrogrouch

      No, SAE ignored Daimler’s results because they did not think the conditions were realistic. They did not perform Daimler’s test.
      At this point, only time will tell because I don’t see the EU caving.

      “The SAE CRP team of OEMs has concluded that the refrigerant release testing conducted by Daimler is unrealistic and that it is not an appropriate test to verify the safety of refrigerant applications in vehicles. The Daimler testing did not include any actual vehicle collisions or the mitigating factors that occur in an actual collision.”

      From http://www.sae.org/servlets/pressRoom?OBJECT_TYPE=PressReleases&PAGE=showRelease&RELEASE_ID=2063

    • 0 avatar
      djsyndrome

      Who said a collision was necessary? An improperly replaced fitting after a repair or a faulty line would cause a leak.

      I’m less concerned about the fire (shit happens; cars have been catching on fire for as long as the ICE has been around) and more concerned about this:

      “The substance caught fire as soon as it hit the hot surface, releasing a toxic, corrosive gas as it burned. The car’s windshield turned milky white as lethal hydrogen fluoride began eating its way into the glass.”

      i.e., something first responders may or may not be prepared to handle. Image search ‘HF burns’ if you’re curious.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    What other motivations besides safety could MB have to fight back this hard? I find it bizarre that MB engineers are convinced this is a serious safety issue, yet they somehow can’t convince the rest of the EU.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      I find it bizarre, and laudable, that the German government is backing Mercedes in the face of what must be millions of lobbying dollars pouring in from honeywell/Dupont on this issue.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I would say cost. I would not be surpised if MB sees this change adding more to their costs than they can recoup from buyers, thus squeezing their margins.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        That’s not very likely. They already released cars with r-1234yf. Dealers purchased new recovery re-charge machines to handle the stuff. Now Diamler has to buy them back once all the R-1234yf cars have been converted to R-134a. They will be shelling out some big bucks for the machines. Not to mention what not complying will cost them. It is not that much more expensive that you would notice even an extra $50 added to a $120K S or SL.

  • avatar
    old fart

    DuPont and Honeywell must be paying the govt. a huge sum to put up that fight .

  • avatar
    tedward

    One way of looking at this is that escalation is in Mercedes favor. If Germany gets involved it will no longer be an obscure technical argument but rather a story about euro infighting. That will get mainstream coverage and Dupont/Honeywell (& GM etc) will have to explain toxic gas byproduct to the public at large. Enthusiasts don’t take well to this product and we are the most likely group to tolerate additional risk for some technical gain. Now the chemical companies could have a problem in all their prospective markets.


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