The last time we checked in on the battle of refrigerants, France had enacted a registration ban on some Mercedes-Benz vehicles because their air-conditioning systems were loaded with R134a, which was found to be harmful to the environment by EU tests. Now, other EU states are considering banning the substance, according to Automotive News, as they push for a new refrigerant, R1234yf, to be used in new vehicles across the board.

EU testing has shown that the new chemical refrigerant, R1234yf, is safe to use in automobiles and less harmful to the environment than R134a. But after testing it independently, Daimler claimed that R1234yf could be the primary source of a vehicle fire in certain crash scenarios, if the pressurized refrigerant line broke and leaked onto the hot exhaust system. Germany, going against the EU ban, still allows vehicles with R134a to be sold within its borders.

In a meeting in Brussels with the EU's Technical Committee on Motor Vehicles on Wednesday, representatives from the 28 member states discussed the issue and agreed that all vehicles sold within the EU must conform to the law. They stated vehicles that have already been sold with R134a must be withdrawn, just as France did by not allowing the registration of Mercedes-Benz A-class, B-class and SL cars built after June.

More talks between France and Germany will be organized to find a solution to the problem. But in the meantime, according to Automotive News, Daimler said that the vehicle ban in France alone could detract two percent from its global sales. Read the official EU press releases from the meeting in Brussels after the jump.
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European Commission

MEMO

Brussels, 17 July 2013

The Technical Committee on Motor Vehicles supports the European Commission approach to the MAC affair

The Technical Committee on Motor Vehicles met today in a very constructive and positive atmosphere. The European Commission and the competent authorities of the 28 Member States discussed the current situation regarding the implementation of Directive 2006/40/EC on mobile air conditioning (MAC Directive).

There was a general consensus that, within their respective responsibilities, the national authorities and the vehicle manufacturers will have to find effective solutions to ensure the safety of European citizens, the achievement of the climate objectives of the Directive, and the good functioning of and fair competition in the internal market, in full respect of the requirements of the EU legal framework.

Member Stats acknowledged that, regarding the vehicles which do not conform to EU law, corrective measures shall be taken to bring the vehicles in conformity including the withdrawal of those non-conforming vehicles already sold on the market, as has already been done by a Member State.

The European Commission is committed to continue discussions with Member States in the coming weeks with a view to finding appropriate solutions.


European Commission

MEMO


Brussels, 16 July 2013

Statement of Vice-President Tajani on the respect of the MAC Directive

The Commission has the duty to ensure that European Union law is fully and uniformly applied throughout the EU's internal market, so that a level playing field and fair competition conditions are respected for all economic operators.

Directive 2006/40/EC on mobile air conditioning (MAC Directive) became fully applicable on 1 January 2013. This Directive requires, inter alia, to use in the air-conditioning systems refrigerants with a limited global warming potential. The refrigerant (HFO 1234yf) chosen by industry to be used on MAC to fulfil the obligations of this directive has been considered unsafe by one German manufacturer that continued to use old refrigerant with a much higher air polluting potential.

As a consequence, 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, and not respecting the obligations of the MAC Directive. According to Framework Directive 2007/46/EC on type approval (Framework Directive), non-conform vehicles cannot be sold or registered in the European Union.

There are also vehicles produced from May 2013 and approved under an extension of a previous type approval granted by the competent national (German) authority, whose legal status needs to be investigated further.

The Commission is committed to ensuring the highest level of safety of vehicles placed on the European market. However, until the present date there has been no confirmation that the safety issues that have been raised are of general nature, or rather linked to specific systems/vehicles. The relevant national authorities, in Germany, are currently evaluating this.

Given this situation, on 10 June the Commission sent a letter to the German authorities in the framework of the EU pilot infringement procedure in order to clarify this situation. The Commission, in its role as Guardian of the Treaty, will duly assess the elements and explanations given by the German authorities.

In early July, the Commission was informed that France was taking temporary measures regarding the registration on their territory of some vehicles, which could be in a situation of non-conformity with (the Framework Directive and) the MAC Directive.

Article 29 of the Framework Directive provides for the possibility for Member States to adopt temporary safeguard measures, if some conditions are met and a specific procedure is followed. If this procedure is triggered, the Commission may consider the French initiative within this framework.

I have requested my services to convene a meeting of the representatives of the 28 Member States to discuss the situation tomorrow, 17 July. I invite Member States to assist the Commission in finding concrete and urgent solutions to re-establish conformity in the internal market to the advantage of all economic operators.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 44 Comments
      desf
      • 1 Year Ago
      On this case I belive more in Mercs tests than EU guys. I choose so for very simple reason. Refilling your A/C system with old coolant costs about 40eur, with new one it's supposed to be about few hundreds. My guess would be that SOMEONE was given astronomically huge amount of cash to push this law through, especially that R1234yf (seriously who comes up with these names?) is produced by only two companies in the wholre world, who also, exclusively owns patents for this ;)
        thequebecerinfrance
        • 1 Year Ago
        @desf
        It's always more expensive at 1st. It will change.
          Greg
          • 1 Year Ago
          @thequebecerinfrance
          Yes, it will change to a new chemical once they decide R1234yf isn't good, either. And then it will cost even more.
      Scr
      • 1 Year Ago
      This has nothing to do with the environment, otherwise 134A would never have been used. This has to do with money and political POWER. If Benz says the stuff is dangerous and has PROOF, the EU owes it to its citizens to look into the problem with Benz itself and ensure its safety before it is approved and mandated. Mercedes isn't doing this out of concerns for profit, they are refusing the new refrigerant out of fear of LIABILITY. BMW, VW, and the other European auto makers should be fighting this with Benz. You don't want new cars, France? Fine, you can't have them. Somebody has to stand up to these corrupt self-interested nanny-state socialists in the EU.
      mazeroni
      • 1 Year Ago
      At leas the headline was funny!
      Marco Polo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Although most countries in Europe have automotive factories, the EU has only three countries with locally owned major Auto-manufacturers. This is a fight between old rivals and adversaries, Germany and France, for control of the EU. ( Italy and Fiat, are simply interested by-standers). In a constricting EU market for new car sales, Germany's three largest auto-makers have made substantial in-roads against the two French manufacturers. VW has become a hugely profitable giant, and has eroded a great deal of Renault's traditional market. Likewise, Daimler has almost eliminated the market in France and the EU for French built luxury vehicles. The French government has substantial investment and shareholding in the French auto-industry and vested interest in preserving the French car building industry. The new French government wishes to seen as the ideological leader of the failed 'southern/Eastern' EU states, while portraying Germany as the cruel paymaster , forcing austerity, behind economic reform and fiscal responsibility upon the helpless "workers" . Meanwhile, the UK wonders how it got involved in this mess, and regrets abandoning it's old Commonwealth alliances and Anglo-American trade. Membership of the EU has brought some advantages to the UK, but far more disadvantages. The old logistical problems of distance for a far flung Commonwealth, are now meaningless in an age of modern communications. Commonwealth nations like Australia, Malaysia, Canada and New Zealand would have provided the UK with vast opportunities for trade with Japan, the PRC and other Asian nations. UK industry, is now dominated by Indian, Japanese and Russian investors, using the UK as a springboard for EU investment opportunities. Complete disengagement from the EU , is now probably impossible for Germany and the UK, but reforming the EU away from a political "United States of Europe" and back to a trading co-operative, is still possible. Such reforms would keep the best of the EU ambitions intact, but remove much of the bureaucracy and waste.
      Olsparkee
      • 1 Year Ago
      Let the hysteria begin. This is why all cars older than 4 years should be recycled. We should eliminate all air conditioning and mandate pedal power with wooden wheels.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        thequebecerinfrance
        • 1 Year Ago
        When you build cars you follow the legislation. That's it. You don't want to play by the rules? Go build toys.
          wilkegm
          • 1 Year Ago
          @thequebecerinfrance
          Hah! Toys- please, you think the regulations arent even dumber there?
        Mr.Roadrage
        • 1 Year Ago
        I agree with you completely. We should let rich corporations decide what's best for us. How dare mere mortals put the environment above the priorities of the wise, benevolent industrialists!
        • 1 Year Ago
        [blocked]
      Joe Liebig
      • 1 Year Ago
      Just put the new stuff in for the Frenchies. Let them burn in hell.
        Greg
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Joe Liebig
        Or sell them cars without AC.
        wilkegm
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Joe Liebig
        Problem is, MB would then knowingly be building what they consider unsafe cars, which is uncoscionalbe. Imagine the lawsuit- "they built a dangerous car, and THEY KNEW IT!" I suppose they could sell them R1234 compatible, but not charge the systems.
      Marcopolo
      • 1 Year Ago
      The EU needs reform. It was always a hugely expensive bureaucratic, complicated organization with very diverse expectations, but today it's so far out of step with reality, it becoming dysfunctional. In the UK the EU remains deeply mistrusted and unpopular, while Germany is wondering if the EU is still relevant , or just an unnecessary drain on the German economy. What remains of the old socialist-left, love the bureaucratic EU, it's the last refuge to impose stiflingly meaningless rules and regulations, based on ideology and sectarian interests, rather than science and efficiency. EU politicians are just failed national political figures, given EU posts as sinecures to rid the domestic parties of incompetents. The EU bureaucracy has not replaced national bureaucratic red-tape, but just added another layer of unnecessary regulatory complexity. Every day, citizens of the UK, give thanks for John Major's wisdom in not joining the debacle that is the Euro !
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        • 1 Year Ago
        [blocked]
          Marco Polo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @ Anders, Oh no, the shame ! Are you serious ? Salt, sitting right there in plain view, where children can see such depravity ? Have they no decency ? Will no one save the children ?
      Stuka
      • 1 Year Ago
      Europe is currently experiencing its worse auto sales in 20 years. And here their governments are trying to ban other vehicles? They truly have no grasp on how economics work.
        Mr.Roadrage
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Stuka
        Stuka, not everything is about money.
          wilkegm
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Mr.Roadrage
          Actually it is- don't trust anyone who tries to tell you otherwise.
          Greg
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Mr.Roadrage
          But when it comes to national & international govts, most everything is about money & power.
      stickshiftn69
      • 1 Year Ago
      so let me get this straight , by being worse treehuggers, its ok, because the refrigerant is less harmful to the environment, however, it causes fires !!!.... so in turn, the so called "less harmful" one is actually MORE HARMFUL because it causes FIRES..... so common sense would say, lets just keep using the 134a, but these corporate tree hugging morons are actually not canvassing the BIG PROBLEM rather they would cover up the small problem, good job you blooming idiots .... if we were referring to money, we would call this, PENNY CONSCIOUS AND DOLLAR FOOLISH !!!!!!!
        MAXLD
        • 1 Year Ago
        @stickshiftn69
        Several entities and brands tested it and approved it and that means they didn't found any more relevant than usual hazard compared to the current one. Daimler seems the one saying that in one very specific case of a perfect storm of situations it can ignite... well, that means they need to work on the development side to avoid that. People seem to forget that cars run on flammable liquids, one of them the freaking gasoline. How is that people accept using them? The combustion engine car has been around for a long time and developments have been made to prevent cars catching fire under several types of specific accidents. I'm not saying in this case the risk of fire is more acceptable than a significant "green factor", but if it takes a perfect storm of events to make that coolant ignite (in case the flammable factor is indeed any higher than the old one), then it's worth the monetary cost of developing and securing the system to simply take it out of the equation. Specially if you are a filthy rich company like Mercedes. Something is not "convenient" for them to do the switch to the new one, and I bet is related to a "green piece of paper".
        Matt
        • 1 Year Ago
        @stickshiftn69
        I believe that the EU has run crash tests and found the refrigerant to be safe. I remember reading somewhere that Daimler was protesting this due to only 1 manufacturer producing the new refrigerant, but I don't remember where and could be totally wrong. Supposedly there are some German manufacturers looking into a totally different refrigerant that is supposed to be better for the environment and have better cooling properties
          wilkegm
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Matt
          "Daimler was protesting this due to only 1 manufacturer producing the new refrigerant," Hm- pretty sure that a law that effectively forces a monopoly violates all sorts of rules.
      DarylMc
      • 1 Year Ago
      For me this is exactly the reason why CO2 refrigerants should be pursued. It could be the last refrigerant change necessary. But if Mercedes doesn't provide the vehicles with CO2 refrigerant and seeks to keep using 134a they can hardly be surprised if they have these problems.
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