By on August 28, 2013


In the continuing saga of Daimler, the EU and banned refrigerants, the German automaker won a provisional ruling from France’s highest administrative judicial body to overturn the suspension of the sale of Mercedes-Benz models equipped with R134a refrigerant in those cars’ air conditioning systems. European Union regulators have banned R134a but Daimler claims that the replacement, R1234yf, can create fire and toxicity safety issues. The French Council of State said that authorities in that country must resume registrations of those Mercedes-Benz models while the case goes on.

According to Bloomberg, the court in Paris ruled that there is “serious doubt” about the immediate environmental threat upon which the French government was basing the sales ban. The French Ministry of Ecology, Development and Energy had blocked new registrations of the models in July, citing EU environmental rules, while Daimler insisted that since the models were type-approved by the German Federal Motor Vehicle Office, or KBA, they can be registered anywhere in the EU.

The models affected are the SL roadster, the CLA four doors, and A-class and B-class compacts and French sales of those vehicles make up about 2% of Daimler’s global revenue. “We expect the French authorities to start registering our vehicles within the next 48 hours,” Daimler said in a statement.

Eventually, a Daimler spokesman said the company will be switching all of its air conditioning systems to the use of carbon dioxide as a refrigerant by 2017, which it says is “the most climate-friendly and safest solution.”

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14 Comments on “French Court Allows Sale of R134a Equipped Mercedes Benzes, Daimler to Move to Carbon Dioxide Refrigerant...”

  • avatar

    At least they aren’t switching to ammonia.

  • avatar

    So we’re told that we need to get rid of R-134 because it’s a greenhouse gas (which was supposed to be the safe alternative to R-12) but then we’re told ad nauseam that carbon dioxide is also greenhouse gas that needs to be reduced.

    So what exactly does converting cars to CO2 really accomplish?

    It’s almost as if this all a big scam between big chemical companies and environmental hysteria, with consumers getting the shaft.

    Nah, that’s crazy talk.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      The issue is that a molecule of R134 has many times more global warming potential than a molecule of CO2.

      As for this having more to do with the chemical companies playing games … no argument from me on that one. If there is a switch to CO2, that represents the strategy of the chemical companies backfiring against them. They deserve it.

      • 0 avatar

        The problem though with Co2 is you’ll have a system that’s incredibly inefficient and will likely have frequent repair issues as a result of the extremely high pressures. You’re talking thousands more for the system, repairs, service, etc. Not to mention, it’s not going to be as “cold” without significant upgrades.

        There’s also real issues about energy usage with a less efficient refrigerant. You’re going to have to have a much harder working compressor.

        I find the whole “greenhouse gas” argument to be ridiculous, so why was R-134 deemed a “green” alternative in the 90’s? It wasn’t like we were in the dark ages scientifically. Why didn’t they know then it was a “greenhouse gas”?

        It’s almost as if they’re making this stuff up as they go along, which is also my opinion on the theory of man-made global warming.

        • 0 avatar

          R-12 caused ozone depletion. R-134a does not cause ozone depletion but has a high global warming potential. HFO-1234yf has a low global warming potential (about four times that of CO2, compared to R-134a at 3800-ish times as much as CO2) but is expensive and proprietary to DuPont and Honeywell. None of those three (or any other fluorocarbon refrigerants) are particularly healthy when burned, producing phosgene and hydrofluoric acid and other compounds that are not fun to breathe.

          Hydrocarbons (e.g. propane) have been proposed as refrigerants and generally work well but have obvious safety implications due to flammability. Propane isn’t great in terms of GWP but isn’t nearly as bad as R-134a.

          R744 (CO2) is inert and nonflammable and not poisonous to breathe and has a GWP of 1, but requires higher pressures.

        • 0 avatar

          The efficiency depends on how good the design of the system is. When R-134a first came out it didn’t cool as well. Now you have systems that barely have a pound of refrigerant in them and barely place a load on the engine. The Germans seem to think that a good CO2 system is possible, so lets see what happens.

    • 0 avatar

      CO2 is a very weak greenhouse gas as such gases go. H2O has more effect, CH4 has way more effect. Verfious flourine based refrigerants are several orders of magnitude more potent, although it has to be noted that of course their amount is a dozen of orders of magnitude smaller than carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    As someone who works in the chemical industry, I’m glad that MB won the first round in this battle. I’d rather spend a little more on a AC hardware that uses CO2 than pay way more for the new expensive refrigerant and cheaper hardware.

  • avatar

    CO2 as a refrigerant? This just might result in a second-order effect of a worldwide shortage of the stuff. With the possible impending removal of one of the corners of the “photosynthesis triangle,” there could be mass extinctions of an unknown number of species in the Plant Kingdom! Why won’t anyone think of the plants?!?!?!?!

    When the ambulance chasers have finished cutting down the Toyota wrongful pedal application money tree, maybe they can have a look into this scandal.

    • 0 avatar

      Just like if fuel cell cars ever become a reality, the water vapor will be blamed for being a pollutant. It will never end.

      I remember reading something about a plan to put a solar power plant in the desert, and somebody arguing that it will harm the local wildlife. You can’t win.

  • avatar

    Although I feel very sorry for any automaker for being required to add material by law (adding to consumer costs), I’m really excited to see MB take its own direction on the whole deal, we should not reward the losers who lobbied for their own personal gain.

  • avatar

    It’s all politics. This is what happens when governments become so large that the unelected regulators make insider, backroom decisions with lobbyists and special interests not only sitting at the table, but writing the regulations. This is the meaning of the charge against King George in the Declaration of Independence: “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.”

  • avatar

    Absolutely, Lorenzo. The government has become the enemy. It uses the AGW hysteria to club anything in sight into compliance with statist dreams. Here in Oklahoma, the ethanol-crazy (and the ethanol mandate IS crazy) feds are in a position to squeeze off the supply of our precious non-adulterated gasoline.

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