EU Starts Legal Proceedings Against Germany in R134a Dispute With Daimler

TTAC Staff
by TTAC Staff
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eu starts legal proceedings against germany in r134a dispute with daimler

The legal struggle has heated up between Daimler and the European Commission over the automaker’s continued use of R134a air conditioning refrigerant, which has been banned by the EU, in some of its models. “We are opening a procedure against Germany. This is not a final decision by the Commission,” EU industry commissioner Antonio Tajani said.

Germany has two months to respond. The procedure for adjudicating the violation of EU rules is a multi-step process which normally takes months. The German government is backing Mercedes-Benz and the dispute could ultimately end up in the European Court of Justice, with the possibility of heavy fines and the recall of about 130,000 Mercedes-Benz A-Class, B class, CLA and SL cars.

Daimler bases it’s opposition to phasing out R134a is due to concerns over the fire safety of the replacement, R1234yf. When burned, R1234yf gives off hydrogen flouride gas, which is toxic. Other European carmakers have switched over their latest models to then new coolant which was jointly developed by Honeywell and DuPont.

The EU’s directive 2006/40/EC bans the use of R134a in models approved for sale after December 2010. Vehicle types certified earlier, or their derivatives, have until 2017 to comply. Daimler and the German government believe that continuing to use R134a in those models in not a breach of EU rules. Daimler had gotten approval from German regulators to continue to use R134a while it develops a CO2 based refrigerant that would be even more environmentally sensitive than R1234yf. Daimler and the German government continue to urge EU officials to reconsider the safety of R1234yf. VDA, the German auto industry’s trade association, said that it was surprised at the European Commission taking formal steps against Daimler before tests on the safety of R1234yf had been completed and evaluated.

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5 of 21 comments
  • Schultz Schultz on Jan 24, 2014

    "Other European carmakers have switched over their latest models to then new coolant which was jointly developed by Honeywell and DuPont." then new coolant? Try...the then new refrigerant. Sheesh. So where were the safety Nazis when R-134a came out? If your doing AC service on an automobile with the refrigerant and it gets sucked in to the induction system of the engine phosgene gas is produced which is poisionous. Did anyone raise objections that is could harm folks but especially mechanics? Of course not. Those in power don't give much of a damn about the slaves in the coal mines, eh?

    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Jan 24, 2014

      That was a danger only to mechanics. Mercedes claims the danger in a crash extends to driver, passengers, passers-by and first responders. That's a lot of potential plaintiffs. in the mechanic's case, they can always argue he did something wrong and is at fault, since he was working on the car.

  • Wmba Wmba on Jan 24, 2014

    This is the fifth or sixth post on the subject here on TTAC in the last three years. Apparently most of the commenters don't remember this judging from the reaction. Mercedes objected to this new refrigerant because of the test results they found. Rather than obey what they saw as a silly order, Mercedes has steadfastly refused to use the new refrigerant. The EU seat jockeys passing out orders have been mightily distressed by a mere car company giving them the middle finger and telling them to frack off and have another think. BMW and VW have backed up Mercedes, and so has the German government, which is why the EU is contemplating going after them for disobedience, and giving them 60 days to respond as to why they shouldn't be punished. Over the last three years, Honeywell, with a brand new factory in China to make this monopolistic refrigerant, have sponsored further tests with the SAE, which are in direct disagreement in findings with Mercedes' position. The SAE says it's safe. Mercedes says it isn't. Now, in the history of modern chemicals, many have turned out to be poisons or gross pollution. DDT is the main one. Mercedes is blowing the whistle on this stuff prior to its widespread use. Given their opposition, surely the safe thing to do is to not introduce the stuff, since it is of no commercial benefit for Mercedes to object - the opposite is true But, as usual, the makers say it's safe and have a factory to pay for, so again as usual, the human race rushes to use something even when a red flag is raised. The prudent thing is to use something else, which is why the German car industry is trying to get CO2 systems to work. But logic rarely trumps special interests with a spare buck or two to spend in advocacy. I hope Mercedes wins against the odds stacked against them.

    • See 1 previous
    • Tedward Tedward on Mar 12, 2014

      wmba that was a phenomenal comment +1000 From a purely self-interested perspective you could point out that the one party who has to ultimately accept full liability for the automobile and it's systems is the one objecting here. That, more than anything, is what has been raising my interest in this issue. If this continues to escalate I would hope the car companies would actually make their case to the general public. This entire subject is 100% completely off the mainstream awareness and the product is rapidly spreading in use on both sides of the Atlantic.

  • RHD This looks like a lead balloon. You could buy a fantastic classic car for a hundred grand, or a Mercedes depreciationmobile. There isn't much reason to consider this over many other excellent vehicles that cost less. It's probably fast, but nothing else about it is in the least bit outstanding, except for the balance owed on the financing.
  • Jeff A bread van worthy of praise by Tassos.
  • Jeff The car itself is in really good shape and it is worth the money. It has lots of life left in it and can easily go over 200k.
  • IBx1 Awww my first comment got deletedTake your “millennial anti theft device” trope and wake up to the fact that we’re the only ones keeping manuals around.
  • ToolGuy "Images © 2023 Tim Healey/TTAC; Mercedes-Benz"• I bet I can tell you which is which.