Toyota reverts to using R134a coolant on Europe models

Article by Anita Panait, on August 26, 2013

Toyota has started using again the controversial refrigerant R134a for some Toyota and Lexus models in Europe in response to increasing public pressure in Germany. The European Union has banned the R134a from new vehicles built in the region since the start of 2013 to meet climate protection targets. The R134a is considered as a thousand times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Prior to Toyota's move, Daimler was the only carmaker that refused to phase out R134a, saying that the only available replacement, R1234yf, poses a potential fire hazard. According to a Toyota spokesman, the carmaker has equipped three models with the R134a to respect their customers' safety concerns because of the controversy in Germany." He remarked that although Toyota is still "very confident" about the new refrigerant's safety, the Japanese carmaker wanted to avoid being drawn into the debate about its use.

Toyota is no longer equipping its Europe-intended vehicles with R1234yf, which produced by Honeywell and DuPont. The carmaker used to use the new coolant on its Toyota Prius Plus, GT86 and Lexus GS models. Daimler is challenging a decision by France to ban Mercedes-Benz vehicles using the old refrigerant, particularly Mercedes A-class, B-class and CLA-class models built since mid-June.

According to Daimler, vehicles are type-approved in Germany and should be allowed to be registered anywhere in the EU. On the other hand, France argues that its ban on the vehicles is legally permissible under an EU law that protects the environment and public health. France's top administrative court is set to issue a ruling Tuesday on whether the ban should be lifted after Daimler sought for an injunction to suspend the ban.

Jacques-Henri Stahl, president of the tribunal judging the case in the Council of State, told lawyers for Daimler and the French government during a two-hour hearing Friday that "The stakes are big," adding that they are "at the heart of overlapping national and European issues." [source: automotive news - sub. required]

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