France's highest administrative court said yesterday that authorities must resume registering Daimler vehicles, which were formally banned in late July, Automotive News reports, even though they are still equipped with R134a air-conditioning refrigerant.

The refrigerant is illegal in the European Union and is the reason for this legal battle, which has restricted the registration of Mercedes-Benz A-, B-, CLA- and SL-Class vehicles in France. But it turns out that the French government's use of an EU "safeguard" provision to ban registration of the Mercedes-Benz vehicles, which allows countries to block sales of vehicles that would "seriously harm the environment," wasn't justified. Why? Because the use of R134a doesn't appear to be an immediate danger to the environment, the Paris-based court said.

The new chemical, R1234yf, was made the EU's standard for a/c systems because it emits fewer greenhouse gases into the environment. Daimler says it continues to use R134a because it found R1234yf to be flammable in testing. The German automaker also argues that approval of the use of R134a by the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) should be good enough permission for it to sell cars in Europe.

The current state of the situation prompted Daimler to say it expects French authorities to start registering its vehicles tomorrow.

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