Legal proceedings have been launched by the European Commission against Germany over the refusal of Daimler AG to get rid of a banned refrigerant from new Mercedes-Benz cars, EU industry commissioner Antonio Tajani disclosed. The Commission has been probing into Daimler’s refusal to comply with an EU law that bars the R134a air-con refrigerant in new cars registered from the start of 2013.
Germany has supported Daimler in the matter. The R134a is a global warming agent considered over 1,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Daimler claims it refused to get rid of the refrigerant due to safety concerns. The carmaker still uses the R134a in new Mercedes-Benz A-Class, B-Class, CLA and SL cars. “This is not a final decision by the Commission," Tajani remarked. The Commission said in a statement that it has two months to respond.
The Commission has threatened the United Kingdom, Belgium and Luxembourg with legal action, saying that the countries were suspected of seeking to circumvent the refrigerant rules by approving new vehicles based on older technical standards. While the only available replacement for R134a -- R1234yf -- is just as potent as carbon dioxide, Daimler claims it can emit toxic hydrogen fluoride gas when it burns, concluding that it could be a safety hazard.
On the other hand, other European carmakers have started using the new refrigerant on their newest models after safety tests. "Daimler says there is a safety problem with the new coolant, but we do not see that," Tajani said. Daimler, meanwhile, said in a statement that its use of the R134a coolant was legal. "In order to use the transition period for the development of CO2 air conditioning systems by end 2016, we applied for approval to extend current type certificates. This was evaluated and approved by the (German) authorities," Daimler said. [source: Reuters]