"Our focus is on r744" - Volkswagen spokesman on refrigerant debate

"Our focus is on r744" - Volkswagen spokesman on refrigerant debate

Volkswagen is declining to put a date on when its r744 refrigerant will be in mass production for its vehicles, but is highlighting what it claims are the non-flammable properties of the air conditioning solution.

The German giant currently uses r134a coolant for air conditioning - the chemical which has caused such a political and scientific furore in the corridors of the European Commission (EC) - with Honeywell and Dupont positioning their r1234yf variant as an environmentally-friendly - and safe - alternative.

Fellow-German automaker, Mercedes, has been embroiled in a simmering row with Brussels and the French government, concerning its insistence on using r134a and maintaining in certain situations, r1234yf could be ignited in extreme circumstances, but Honeywell insists its coolant is safe.

"We are two solutions at this point - we could be r1234yf and the other solution would be r744 which is using CO2 under high pressure conditions as coolant - [it has the] great advantage it is not flammable," a Volkswagen spokesman told just-auto from Wolfsburg.

"We seek to find a coolant which is out of question - [in] our opinion r744 is out of question - it is not flammable. We don't see a problem with this r744 - we are developing the air conditioning units for our Group not just Volkswagen."

The German manufacturer added it had not set a date for entry into service for its r744 alternative refrigerant, but the impression is building the issue is becoming Germany versus the European Commission as Berlin has also appeared to back a cautious approach to r1234yf.

"We have not set a date yet at it [r744] is currently under development with new vehicle generations," said the Volkswagen spokesman. "There will be a transition period of course.

"We are part of the auto industry and we are the number one car maker in Europe - we are always in discussion.

"We have said before our focus is on r744 and carmakers have different solutions - we respect that. In the future there will be more than one solution for this."

Honeywell insists it is "Volkswagen's choice" to discuss its choice of refrigerant, but maintains more than a dozen automakers are using r1234yf to comply with the European Union Mobile Air Conditioning Directive.

"More than 1m vehicles already use HFO-1234yf, and that number will surpass 2m this year," said a Honeywell statement. "Widespread adoption of HFO-1234yf would lead to the greenhouse gas equivalent of removing more than 30m cars from the roads worldwide.

"The indisputable safety of HFO-1234yf for use in automobiles has been confirmed repeatedly through comprehensive and rigorous testing by SAE International, dozens of automakers, and most recently, by the EU Joint Research Centre (JRC)."