GERMANY: Mercedes-Benz hails France ruling but DuPont backs r1234yf
Mercedes-Benz says the Council of State ruling repealing France's ban of its models using the r134a refrigerant, "has confirmed our legal opinion," in the row that has pitted the European Commission and Paris against the automaker and Berlin.
The manufacturer added it expected registration of the A, B, CLA and SL models to start imminently following the lifting of the ban, that saw Mercedes dealers in France warn up to 1,500 employees could be made partially redundant as the blockade on models using r134a as opposed to the alternative r1234yf refrigerant, took effect.
"We are delighted the Conseil d'Etat has confirmed our legal opinion and repealed the registration ban in France with immediate effect," said a Mercedes statement sent to just-auto. "The balance between all automotive manufacturers in Europe has thus been restored.
"EU law clearly provides for the case that, under certain conditions, vehicles may be equipped with the safe refrigerant R134a until the end of 2016. This is why well over 95% of all vehicles have been registered with it. All Mercedes-Benz products also have the corresponding type approval that is valid throughout Europe."
Chemical manufacturer, DuPont, has however, leapt to the defence of r1234yf maintaining it is safe, despite Mercedes claims it could present a fire hazard in certain conditions.
"DuPont has a high level of confidence the refrigerant can be used safely in automotive air conditioning," said DuPont Chemicals & Fluoroproducts president, Thierry Vanlancker. "Most recently, testing by Germany's Federal Motor Transport Authority, the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt [KBA] 'produced no adequate evidence of a serious risk' related to HFO-1234yf.
"DuPont believes the EU Commission is committed to enforcing the MAC [Mobile Air Conditioning] Directive to reduce automotive impact to the climate and also to preserve the Commission's ability to enforce future environmental regulations.
"We believe the Commission will continue working to ensure all automotive manufacturers comply with the Directive."
DuPont added global - unnamed - automakers had concluded the risk of a vehicle fire caused by HFO-1234yf was only three chances in a trillion and it hailed an independent EC review of all testing to "help bring clarity to a debate that has continued for too long."