Daimler Loses A Round With EU Over R134a Refrigerant, Full EU Commission Meets
The EU Commission has provisionally sided with France in that country’s decision to stop the sale of new Mercedes-Benz cars because of Daimler’s decision to continue to use R134a refrigerant in it’s HVAC systems. The EU has banned R134a out of concerns for global warming. The only available replacement that meets the new regulations is R1234yf, made by Honeywell, and Mercedes-Benz has insisted that their tests show that the new refrigerant is dangerously flammable and could start an underhood fire under certain conditions. The provisional ruling could be a problem for Daimler in other EU countries.
“Currently in the European market there are vehicles produced by this manufacturer that, according to the preliminary Commission analysis, are not in conformity with their type-approval,” EU vice president for trade Antonio Tajani said in a prepared statement on Tuesday. Daimler insists that since the cars were approved by Germany’s Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (Federal Motor Transport Authority), known as KBA, they are legal to sell in France and the rest of the EU. “Our cars have a valid, European-wide permit. Nothing should stand in the way of their being registered.”
So far the cars that are affected are the Mercedes A class, B class and the new CLA. The company said that the regulatory blockade could affect about 2% of its global sales, about 29,000 cars. Audi and Volkswagen have also objected to the refrigerant change.
The issue is serious enough that a meeting was scheduled for today (July 17, 2013) with all 28 Member States of the EU sending representatives. A spokeswoman for Tajani told just-auto from Brussels. “Tomorrow afternoon, we are probably going to send a release on the position of the European Commission.”
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Type approval chaos. Under the so-called type regulations, if a vehicle is type-approved in one country, it is legal for sale in all other counries signatory to the plan. As I have opined before, and obviously others agree, Daimler cannot have commercial reasons for objecting to this new refrigerant. For them, the easy way out is to simply use the stuff and let it all play out. The SAE has now had two taskforces saying the stuff is really not a problem, and dismisses Daimler's fears. Who is right? The sit back and enjoy popcorn scenario envisages a time in the future, after an EU/USA trade accord is signed that France will object to some US rule or regulation which some EU commissioner will uphold, based on "preliminary" investigation, e.g. forgetting about what I mention in my first sentence above, and then the fun will begin, especially since 80% of the population, including 80% of the Senate will have forgotten about the pact. Freedom fries will once again proliferate. Unlikely? Don't bet on it.
Nothing will ever top R12. R134a was touted as environmentally friendly and now it's harmful to the environment, blah blah blah. I guess I should stock pile R134a now like people used to with R12.