By on July 30, 2013


The regulatory and verbal war between France and Germany over Mercedes-Benz’s refusal to switch to the R1234yf air conditioning refrigerant has escalated. After a French court ordered a 10 day stay, lifting that country’s ban on R134a equpped A Class, B Class, CLA and SL cars made since June, Daimler expressed confidence that the French government would abide by that ruling. That confidence was apparently badly placed because the French government has now invoked a “safeguard procedure” of the EU that allows member countries to act unilaterally to avoid a serious risk involving the environment, public health or traffic safety, reinstituing the ban. Daimler promised that it would continue fighting to allow the sale of those cars in France. It claims that the new refrigerant is dangerously flammable and toxic.

The French environment ministry said, “The registration of Daimler/Mercedes vehicles classes A, B, CLA and SL remain banned in France as long as the company does not conform to active European regulation.” Daimler responded by calling the decision “absolutely inexplicable” and promised more litigation. Eu officials said the were talking with both the French and German national governments to schedule bilateral talks in September in an attempt to resolve the dispute.

While French officials frame the matter as an environmental issue, Mercedes-Benz supporters think that national politics and favoring local automakers is a factor. PSA Peugeot Citroën have asked for government financing and Renault has struggled as the European market has had its worst year in decades, particularly with small and medium sized cars. German companies, BMW, Daimler and the VW group, which all make larger, more expensive cars, have been doing better, particularly in emerging global markets. German chancellor, Angela Merkel, angered the French last month when she blocked EU efforts to institute more stringent controls on emissions from large cars.

The head of the Association of Mercedes-Benz dealers in France, Jean-Claude Bernard, said the action was intended “to please the greens and damage a German manufacturer. This coolant is used in 95 per cent of cars in France with air conditioning. If it is so dangerous they should take them all off the road.” Bernard’s group says that about 5,000 deliveries have been affected so far, that orders were down 20% and that the Mercedes models involved represented about half of his association members’ sales, about 30,000 units annually. He demanded an end to the R134a ban and wrote to the French minister for the environment claiming that 11,000 jobs in France were endangered by the ban.

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9 Comments on “French Government Ignored Court Ruling, Invokes EU “Safeguard Procedure” to Reinstitute Ban On Mercedes-Benz Cars W/ R134a Refrigerant...”

  • avatar

    Seems like the French have the rule or law on there side here and the Germans have the rule of the lawyers.

  • avatar

    What would the legal situation be if Mercedes would deliver those cars with the airco installed but unfilled with refridgerant?
    Afaik they are then in conformation with the regulations. And that the customers fill with R134a 5 minuten after delivery is to the customers.
    Personally, I will never buy a car with an airco filled with R1234yf. I love my life and don’t want to get burned or poisoned after an accident.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. If you really want to make a difference head over to a GM dealer or make a phone call letting them know this is how you feel. They already have a few models in the states so fitted. I’ve posted this elsewhere, but I stopped a family member from taking delivery on a (deposit down) XTS over this. The dealer staff had no idea it was even an issue and most definitely didn’t want the discussion to happen on their showroom floor. Deposit returned.

  • avatar

    Has Germany stopped allowing registrations of vehicles equipped with 1234 yet? If they want a decent negotiation position it’s the obvious step.

  • avatar
    jose carlos

    That is why I love to speak English when in France.

  • avatar
    Firestorm 500

    I thought the whole reason R134a replaced R12 was that 134 was environmentally friendly and didn’t harm the ozone layer, as R12 was alleged to do.

    • 0 avatar

      I thought the reason was because Dow Chemical had a patent on R134a and they monetized it by lobbying corrupt EPA officials to ban the more efficient public domain coolant that had been in service since the last Depression. Now there is nobody left with a sufficient financial incentive to defend R134a, so there are a new bunch of cretins playing the same game with R1234yf. Environmentalists are happy because the new coolant can make a fender bender look like WWI trench warfare and makes mobility more expensive in the process. Last time the misanthropes were this excited about a coolant, we collectively got to waste a sun’s worth of energy running over-sized A/C systems to be almost as comfortable as we were with Freon.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Just return to R12 already – and bring back Coldpower rockets!

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