The French government has taken formal steps to ban sales of a number of Mercedes-Benz models in its territory due to the vehicles’ usage of a refrigerant banned by the European Union. France said it will retain a sales freeze on Daimler models like the Mercedes A class, B class and CLA after the carmaker challenged the move in court.
The environment ministry said in a statement that registrations of the concerned Mercedes-Benz models "will remain forbidden in France” as long as Daimler does not to conform to European regulations. France has stopped sales of Mercedes models built since June 12 after Daimler refused to stop using the R134a coolant that has been used on new vehicles since the start of 2013.
The blocked Mercedes models account for most of the brand's business in France and around 2 percent of global deliveries. An administrative court issued a ruling Thursday ordering the French government to re-examine the case after Daimler argued that the sales freeze failed to follow EU procedures for "safeguard measures."
According to Daimler, it did not share the view of the French government, which cited Article 29 of an EU framework directive allowing them to stop registration of new cars in extreme cases where a vehicle poses a considerable risk for traffic safety or seriously jeopardizes the environment or public health.
Daimler said that France’s argument is “absolutely incomprehensible” and cannot be applied in their case since virtually all new and used cars in Europe use the R134a and will continue to be so until the end of 2016.
The row between France and Daimler centers on a decision by Germany to allow Daimler continue using R134a due safety concerns about the replacement coolant R1234yf. EU has banned R134a, a global-warming gas that is 1,400 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Typically, approval in France and other EU countries follows on automatically from the German approval. Although Daimler breached an EU directive for continuing exclusively to use the R134a, Germany has agreed to extend a permit granted to predecessor models to the new models.
Germany is facing possible action from the European Commission over a refusal by Daimler to phase out a banned air conditioning coolant -- R134a -- from its new cars. Commission spokesman Carlo Corazza has told Reuters that officials are probing Daimler's Germany-backed refusal to heed an EU directive banning R134a.
Corazza said that if Germany is confirmed to have violated the ban, the EC may take necessary action including, possible infringement procedures.