Kill Or Be Killed: Automakers Can Be Forced To Use Deadly Refrigerant

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
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kill or be killed automakers can be forced to use deadly refrigerant

If you are an automaker, and you know that something can blow up and poison your customers, then you are in deep trouble if you put that stuff in your cars. In Germany, you are in in deep Scheiss if you don’t. Daimler may have to pay high fines if it continues using an old refrigerant in 2013, instead of the new HFO-1234yf, of which Daimler says it can fry and kill you. If Daimler continues to resist, it may lose the European type certification for the A and B Class. Which could kill the company.

This according to a legal opinion, commissioned by a department of the German parliament. The paper has been leaked to Germany’s Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung. Germany’s Kraftfahrtbundesamt, the agency that administers the type certification in Germany, says that nobody is forcing Daimler to use HFO-1234yf, “as long as the European rules regarding global warming potential are being met.”

Catch-22: Only HFO-1234yf meets the new standards, in effect as of January 1, 2013.

Daimler is not alone. According to the FAZ, Subaru, Mazda, Hyundai-Kia, Renault, Fisker, and Toyota have received type certifications for cars that use HFO-1234yf.

A group representing German firefighters demands that HFO-1234yf is outlawed. The group worries that burning refrigerant can emit substances more dangerous than chemical weapons, Auto Bild says.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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4 of 42 comments
  • MarkP MarkP on Dec 19, 2012

    Chris724, CFC refrigerants in fact have a global warming potential much larger than CO2, but the quantities involved are usually far smaller, so they are not a major contributor. On the other hand, CFCs have a large ozone depleting potential, while HCFCs have relatively smaller potential.

  • 360joules 360joules on Dec 19, 2012

    Small amounts of inhaled hydroflouric acid would be bad news. Even if you are intubated and on a ventilator, gas exchange would be impaired in the alveoli (little air sacs in the lungs). You'd drown in your own secretions. Splash injuries to the skin are bad enough (pour on lots of Calcium Gluconate) but an inhalation exposure would not be the good death.

  • El scotto El scotto on Dec 19, 2012

    A highly flammable refrigerant that emits toxic gases? Imagine if some of the industrial sized containers got stolen.

  • Wstarvingteacher Wstarvingteacher on Dec 21, 2012

    Having worked in the field for years I think I can say that the biggest problem was the way we handled R12 and R22. We just dumped it. Nobody reclaimed. Just making venting refrigerants illegal would have really simplified things and protected mother earth. Not used for cars but R22 got a bad rap. I recall being taught that it was far too unstable to kill ozone. Btw you could stil buy r12 in mexico a long time after we stopped making it and also, as pointed out, much of the flash12 or other 12/134(?) replacements are propane. They are advertised as being legal everywhere. Concur with above that the new refrigerants are very bad for global warming despite killing little or no ozone.