Germany insists the approval extension of Daimler for the refrigerant in its air-conditioning systems is lawful as the row between Berlin, the European Commission (EC) and France, powers further up the political ladder.

The bitter dispute between the parties has moved from a purely automotive difference of opinion to a highly politicised spat, with Germany firmly backing Mercedes-Benz in its use of the r134a refrigerant as opposed to the EC-recommended r1234yf coolant.

Germany’s Transport Ministry is supporting its automaker, which is still suffering the effects of a certification ban by France of its A, B, CLA and SL models as Paris views the r134a chemical as highly polluting.

But as well as the Transport Ministry, the national administration in Berlin has now firmly backed Daimler in the impasse, which French Mercedes dealers are warning could see up to 1,500 staff made partially redundant as cars are not delivered.

“The Federal Government is of the opinion the proposed extension of the approval of Daimler, with additional variants is lawful,” a statement from the German Transport Ministry to just-auto noted.

“The next step takes place at technical level – discussions – between the Commission and the BMVBS [Transport Ministry]. “The Commission then decides how they will proceed in the EU Pilot process further.”

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The Ministry says the response to the EC – which had threatened “appropriate infringement measures” against Germany – was not a letter from Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer but rather a “a statement of the Federal Government” in the Pilot process.

However, the German government is declining to reveal the detail of what was in its reply to Brussels, confining itself to noting: “The Communication is addressed to the Commission and will not be published.”

The issue has also highlighted chemical manufacturers such as Honeywell, which has firmly backed its r1234yf chemical and points to a European directive mandating the coolant with a global warming potential of less than 150.

“All the leading manufacturers were involved in the assessment and everyone approved the use of the new 1234yf refrigerant,” Honeywell Fluorine Products Europe, Middle East, Africa and India managing director, Paul Sanders, previously told just-auto.

“As of September last year, the VDA [German auto association] announced the product was the safest and most environmentally-friendly refrigerant. There were many other options considered – there is plenty of competition and the car industry chose our molecule.”

The European Commission confirmed it had received Germany’s response to questions surrounding the use of r134a and was now assessing its response before deciding on “appropriate” action.
“Under the pilot procedure rules the deadline for the Commission to respond is in ten weeks time,” an EC official said.