We don't have any new supercars to show you today. No new Teslas or SUVs. No new engines or technologies. No mergers, acquisitions or big hires. What we have to tell you about is the coolant automakers are putting into their vehicles. Which may not sound so exciting, but it could mean a big difference for automakers – and for the environment.

That coolant is called 1234yf. It has a higher cost than the R134a commonly used in most vehicles, yet government regulators and automakers are scrambling to adopt it. Why? Because it is more environmentally friendly, and the EPA is offering automakers valuable credits which can help them shore up against tightening efficiency standards.

The commonly used R134a coolant has a global warming factor of 1,430, meaning that it traps 1,430 times more heat if released into the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. 1234Yf, however, has a rating of 1, meaning that can be no more harmful to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Of course that's only if the chemical were released, and most of the time it stays trapped inside a closed system. But manufacturing and maintenance errors can cause it to escape.

Unfortunately the new 1234yf is ten times more expensive than the existing R134a, and requires manufacturers, dealers and repair shops to upgrade their equipment. Which is one reason that companies like Daimler are opposed to its use, proposing instead to use a carbon dioxide-based air conditioning system. But that's not the only reason Daimler is opposed to 1234yf.

The German automaker also conducted a study showing the new coolant to be more combustible and toxic than existing coolants. However further analysis by SAE International and by German environmental agency KBA refuted Daimler's findings, even suggesting that Daimler had rigged the study.

Currently Daimler's former partner Chrysler is among the leaders in implementing the use of 1234yf, injecting the coolant into the air-con systems on the new Jeep Cherokee, Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger and Challenger, with the Dodge Dart and Ram 1500 set to follow. The Honda Fit EV, Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, Cadillac XTS and Chevy Spark EV have also made the switch, but we can expect more to follow in the coming years.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 42 Comments
      DooMMasteR
      • 11 Months Ago
      is this an advertisement? the old patents on R134a ran out and now there is a new refrigerant that is again patented (hence its price) CO2 as refrigerant cannot be patented and is cheap as ****... but not only that... CO2 is not inflammable (it even extinguished fires) no it is also non toxic (in a not to high concentration :P) opposed to 1234yf which when burned becomes in part florid acid which is the real reason why all German car manufacturers stayed with R134a and will directly switch to CO2 (at least VW(VAG)/BMW and Mercedes) sry but 1234yf is introducing a new health and life risk to the passengers and rescue personnel which is a high price for some extra $ for DuPont/Honeywell
      Cool Disco Dan
      • 11 Months Ago
      Government extortion. Adopt our ways and be rewarded, refuse and be punished.
      Brian
      • 11 Months Ago
      As an engineer, I'm all for new and better ideas but I want to question, why is 1234yf 10 times more expensive than R134a? Will it be 10 times more expensive by the time it reaches the consumers? Seeing as the popular Arctic Freeze is about $20, I can't imagine refilling my AC's coolant for $200.. The automakers better pass some of the savings on to the consumers or at least keep the competition somewhat at ground.
      Doug Danzeisen Sr
      • 11 Months Ago
      Google to find the video of two identical Mercedes using R134A and the newer 1234yf. The car they use has a turbo and the leak on the R134a car is just gas escaping without incident. On the vehicle with 1234yf a fire promptly erupts and toxic gases are emitted. In fact the windshield of the car is rendered opaque by this combustion by product. How does that square with product safety if the vehicle is still moving. As to the allegation that the test was rigged I highly doubt that. Mercedes knows their reputation is worth more than this and there was no evidence of pyrotechnics visible on the videos that I could discern. The real issue was with the leak occurring in close proximity to the turbo. Sure enough many cars are not turbos, but an increasing number are and some have more than one turbo and the underhood packaging issues assure that these lines have to be in a pretty tight "Compartment." 2,3,3,3-Tetrafluoropropene is the official name of the Honeywell refrigerant (NOT COOLANT) and it is a plastic compound. As plastics often burn with toxic fumes this is no real surprise. From Wikipedia- In case of fire it can release highly corrosive and toxic hydrogen fluoride. In December 2012, it was reported that tests by Mercedes-Benz showed that the substance ignited when researchers sprayed it and A/C compressor oil onto a car's hot engine. Stefan Geyer, a senior Daimler engineer who ran the tests, stated "We were frozen in shock, I am not going to deny it. We needed a day to comprehend what we had just seen." Combustion occurred in more than two thirds of simulated head-on collisions.[9] Like many environmentalists, the safety issue assumes secondary importance as we get aboard the environmental express.
        DarylMc
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Doug Danzeisen Sr
        Hi Doug R134a MSDS warns that it also can produce hydrogen fluoride when heated. But R-1234yf could be a very short lived product if Daimler's concerns are proven correct.
        jebibudala
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Doug Danzeisen Sr
        Look away, nothing to see here. Sacrificing a few..... dozen, hundred human lives to save a couple polar bears makes more sense.
        Carac
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Doug Danzeisen Sr
        Human exposure results in instant suffocation/drowning. The first-hand experience would likely feel like your lungs had spontaneously burst into flames, following by gasping for breath that never comes until you lose consciousness and die. And that's just a simple leak, something that happens to all A/C systems eventually due to the pressures involved. It's much worse in a accident where the HVAC system is compromised.
          DarylMc
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Carac
          As far as I can tell not from a leak. Only when it is burned.
      edward.stallings
      • 11 Months Ago
      " R1234yf – the replacement refrigerant for R134a that can be potentially fatal... After a protracted battle between Mercedes-Benz and the EU over the use of the new refrigerant, which is flammable and extremely toxic, the adoption of R1234yf appears to be in full swing." Government = stupid.
      hocus_focus
      • 11 Months Ago
      You know the ten times more expensive is probably why this stuff is being pushed. Step Three = Profit.
      Car Guy
      • 11 Months Ago
      Say hello to a $200-300 dollar A/C recharge.
      knightrider_6
      • 11 Months Ago
      R-134a retails for $5/pound and yet repair shops charge $100-200 to fill it in your car. For automakers who will buy the refrigerant in bulk, the cost may go up by $10-20 per car, but refill cost at repair shops is definitely going to skyrocket.
      John Hughan
      • 11 Months Ago
      According to DuPont, Wikipedia, and a few other pages, 1234yf's Global Warming Potential factor is 4, not 1.
      d
      • 11 Months Ago
      Let's not pretend this has anything to do with the environment. This is about patents running out and replacing a cheap refrigerant with one that costs ten times as much. Just like when the government banned CFC albuterol inhalers becuase generics cost $5 even without insurance and replaced them with a garbage newly patented inhaler that doesn't work well and costs $85. I wish they'd go back to freon. I wonder how much of an efficiency hit you get with 1234yf? Each new refrigerant they come up with doesn't work as well and this new one requires even higher compression to achieve cooling. Any environmental effect is negated if it costs you even 1mpg more to run the compressor.
        Jobu
        • 11 Months Ago
        @d
        d- you're spot on. And the worst thing is, as noted lower in the comments, there is evidence that people are going to be killed by this new chemical. I guess a few peasants can be spared so that the pricks get their payday...
      Larry Litmanen
      • 11 Months Ago
      Who cares, auto companies supported this administration so now suffer with their rules.
        knightrider_6
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Larry Litmanen
        half of those companies wouldn't exist without this administration.
          Pj Taintz
          • 11 Months Ago
          @knightrider_6
          really? because it was the previous administration who (wrongly) gav eout billions to the auto industry. The american auto companies STILL went bankrupt, if you didnt know chrysler is no long an american company but italian, and GM had to close around 1/2 of their marques
          EVnerdGene
          • 11 Months Ago
          @knightrider_6
          pj taintz Which of the American auto companies went bankrupt ? And we finally got rid of Chrysler this time? Daimler gave it back. Chrysler's unions are getting $4.2 Billion for their stake in Chrysler (this week's news). Q. Since the US government gave a big chunk of Chrysler to the unions, shouldn't the unions give the $4.2 Billion back to the US government ??? or at least a portion of the "profits" ? really makes you wonder why the government gave a percentage to the unions, doesn't it ??? so corrupted
      EVnerdGene
      • 11 Months Ago
      Doesn't this just sound like another gov'ment-rush-to-market - sticking their noses up everyone's butts lousy idea. Like MTBE, ethanol, , , , and R134a ? Wasn't R134a a shove-it-down-our-throats - gotta be done immediately - to Save The Environment ? and WTF is the connection between fuel economy credits, and what refrigerant our air conditioners use ? 2014 prayer: Please Lord, protect us from the numb-sculls in Washington that want to protect us.
    • Load More Comments