Daimler AG has claimed that a refrigerant named HFO-1234yf may lead to fires during an accident but General Motors is not swayed and will continue with plans to launch this new, more environmentally safe air conditioning refrigerant in its vehicles. According to a GM executive, the automaker did more crash tests as well as computer simulations after Daimler mentioned the fire risks related to the refrigerant.
Last August, Daimler engineers simulated a crash test and discovered that a combination of refrigerant and oil from the air conditioning compressor may be ignited by the hot surface of the engine, producing a toxic gas. Daimler’s claims are disputed by Curt Vincent, GM’s engineering manager for new refrigerants.
He told Automotive News that no safety problems were noted after the vehicles were subjected to crash tests, computer simulations and thermal analysis. Vincent also said that other researchers have attempted to duplicate Daimler’s finding but so far, there’s nothing of concern. Daimler and Volkswagen AG have put off using the refrigerant. Bloomberg News reports that Daimler has announced the recall of Mercedes-Benz vehicles that use the product.
Meanwhile, a Volkswagen spokeswoman said that the company won’t use it “until further notice.” Both GM’s Vincent and Honeywell Vice President Terrence Hahn said that a research group of 13 automakers has reaffirmed its previous findings that there are no safety risks linked to HFO-1234yf. After Daimler expressed its concerns, the consortium reviewed its findings. Hahn said that the group is “absolutely convinced” that the material is safe.