Chemical provider, Honeywell, is mounting a robust defence of its r1234yf refrigerant as France continues to refuse the registration of several Mercedes-Benz models using the alternative 134a coolant.

The German automaker maintains under certain conditions r1234yf can be ignited in extreme situations, but Honeywell insists its product is safe and points to a European directive mandating the coolant with a global warming potential of less than 150.

"We find it extraordinary one company flouts European law in such a flagrant manner," Honeywell Fluorine Products Europe, Middle East, Africa and India managing director, Paul Sanders, told just-auto. "All the leading manufacturers were involved in the assessment and everyone approved the use of the new 1234yf refrigerant.

"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."

France has halted the registration of Mercedes-Benz A, B and CLA class vehicles while the dispute rages, although the German automaker says it can disperse its vehicles to other markets while the impasse continues.

"We have heard nothing new from them [French authorities] - they still obviously refuse to register cars that have been registered after 12 June," a Mercedes-Benz spokesman told just-auto from Germany. "So far not many are affected because we still have older production models being delivered to customers.

"Of course we have systems in place where we can reroute vehicles. We have never said anything about this chemical other than we don't see it as fit for our vehicles. We said - in our vehicles we will not use it."

The controversial issue has been given further currency by this week's testing from Germany's road safety authority, Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA) of the r1234yf refrigerant, which some have speculated may have been prompted by a private letter from the European Commission to the Berlin Federal Government.

KBA is the vehicle type approval authority for Germany and although not responsible for testing chemicals themselves, is tasked with certifying car safety.

"The vehicles with 1234yf - these vehicles we are having a risk assessment because Mercedes told this chemical can cause a danger for people inside," a KBA spokesman told just-auto from its headquarters in Flensburg, northern Germany.

"The [German] Minister of Transport and the European Union needs to have a risk assessment and we are the only type approval authority going into this. It will be very unusual for the European Commission to know what is the result of this test."

Honeywell highlights the Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) directive following what it says was testing during a three-year period through the Co-operative Research Programme of SAE International and sponsored by 15 global automakers.

"All we call for is the rule of law," said Sanders. "We welcome the outcome of that test [KBA] because we are 100% confident the product is safe. This is just another delay tactic.

"There are many, many products under the bonnet of a car - of course fluorocarbons can burn but at extremely high temperature. Our assessment is there is no additional risk with 1234yf."

Honeywell added the cost of its 1234yf coolant was around EUR30 (US$39) - EUR40 extra per car.

Auto market intelligence
from just-auto

• Auto component fitment forecasts
• OEM & tier 1 profiles & factory finder
• Analysis of 30+ auto technologies & more