FRANCE: Mercedes bullish on models re-registration after court ruling
Mercedes-Benz says it is confident the decision by a French court to allow its A, B and CLA models to be re-registered in the country following the suspension of a certification freeze will allow it to resume normal business operations.
The dispute - surrounding Mercedes' use of the r134a air-conditioning refrigerant - has shot to the top of German and European Commission political agendas - but it now appears Mercedes certification will be allowed although the French environment ministry must decide in 10 days whether or not to appeal.
"Of course we are very pleased," a Mercedes-Benz spokesman told just-auto from Germany. "It is a decision of the authorities in France - they have to rethink their position in these 10 days."
The political discussion is now continuing concerning the use of Mercedes' preferred refrigerant - the r134a chemical it claims to be in use on 95% of the current car fleet - and the European Union-backed r1234yf variant which the Germans maintain is highly flammable in certain conditions.
The French registrations freeze has halted deliveries of the Mercedes models which together account for more than half of the brand's sales in the country, but the manufacturer insists it is acting in line with other automakers.
"It is not our refrigerant - it is used by almost all car manufacturers - this r134a," said the Mercedes spokesman. "Most of the carmakers use this interim time frame until the end of 2016, to use r134a.
"So we are not the only ones - 95% of the cars sold are equipped with r134a. Of course, from our point of view, that is not a long-term solution so that is why we started to develop CO2 climate systems.
"We need completely new [CO2] air-conditioning systems - this will be the long-term solution."
Germany's road safety authority, the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA), is currently evaluating r1234yf and although Mercedes estimates it will be around another two weeks before its report will be ready, the automaker is welcoming the ruling by the Tribunal Administratif de Versailles.
"We appreciate we have a little bit of good news," said the Mercedes spokesman.
A further statement from Mercedes also noted: "We are very confident the French administration will follow the court's opinion and our vehicles can again be registered in France soon."
The tribunal in Paris was not immediately available for comment.