BMW has quit from an automotive industry research program probing the safety of a potential new air conditioning refrigerant after disagreeing with the test methods employed. With the backing of the international Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the Cooperative Research Program (CRP) is being conducted to investigate the safety of a proposed new refrigerant, the HFO-1234yf, which European regulators want carmakers to use to minimize atmospheric emissions that could cause global warming. Flammability tests conducted by Daimler in 2012 sparked safety concerns on the use of the refrigerant, saying that HFO-1234yf releases a toxic gas when it burns. Daimler’s concerns led to the formation of the CRP working group.
Daimler as well as fellow German carmaker Audi has already left the CRP working group. A spokesman for BMW said Wednesday that the carmaker has ended its observer role in the CRP working group, adding that the company is continuing its own internal research into the issue.
The spokesman noted that they are not saying that test results are wrong, but they are not convinced the methods applied are sufficient to achieve “a definitive conclusion that guarantees high safety standards.” The CRP working group was due to issue its next report in the middle of February. The working group will publish the final findings in the second quarter of 2013. The production of HFO-1234yf, being developed by Honeywell and DuPont, could lead to a billion dollar monopoly starting in 2017 when a phase-out of current refrigerants is complete.