The European Commission Will Mediate Between Mercedes and France With An Independent Test
|   Monday, August 12, 2013
The European Commission has decided to intervene in the conflict between Mercedes and the French authorities. The European institution will supervise a number of independent tests that could unlock the prohibition of the sale of German models.

One month ago, France ignited spirits in the automotive industry by prohibiting the sale of four Mercedes models in its territory. The reason invoked by the authorities? The models in question (A-Class, B-Class, SL and CLA) do not use a refrigerant gas that complies with new European regulations for air conditioning.


France's decision was criticized by Daimler Benz, who refuses to use refrigerant gas imposed by the European Union because they consider it to be extremely flammable in case of accident and also much more polluting. These features were highlighted by tests conducted inside Mercedes Benz's labs.

To support this viewpoint, the Germans demanded an independent expertise for the refrigerant gas. It is imposed by the EU and produced by Honeywell and DuPont.

To bury the hatchet, the European Commission will try to mediate the conflict between Mercedes and France, organizing an independent testing session for the refrigerant gas which is assumed to be flammable. The Commission wants to ensure the impartiality of the result. Thus the analysis will be conducted by the German Department of Vehicles (KBA), under the careful supervision and independent support of the European Commission.
"The main objective will be reassuring manufacturers and the consumers that all means were invested to ensure the principles of objectivity and transparency in the risk assessments," said a spokesman for Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani.

"The directive applies from 1 January this year. The use of R134a gas is now banned in new automobile models and the producers who continue to use that are in infringement of the law," added Tajani.

Those from KBA have been extensively criticized, both by Mercedes and France, for the discretion with which they treated the problem and keeping the results secret; the results would be published in the coming days but not before the Commission consulted and compared with previous results.
Daimler has justified its refusal to give up the refrigerant R-134a with the safety concerns over the only available replacement, the R1234yf from Honeywell International.

In the last parts of 2012, Mercedes-Benz issued a recall of cars worldwide that used R1234yf, claiming that crash simulations indicated it was more flammable than first thought.

Furthermore, Mercedes says that blocking sales of such important models in France could affect 2 percent of the company's business results, judging by the evolution in 2012. That means about 29,000 cars less for the Stuttgart manufacturer who is struggling hard not to be left behind by rivals like Audi and BMW.

Meanwhile, Honeywell and DuPont, its partner, control the global supply of R1234yf, a gas which is expected to grow into billions of dollars. All this will be possible because the new EU directive says that new cars must not use refrigerants with a global warming potential of more than 150 times over that of carbon dioxide.

The old standard was at more than 1,000 times the global warming potential of CO2, and Honeywell claims its new product is just 4 times stronger.
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