Daimler AG Goes to War With France
As most of you know, France has blocked the sales of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, B-Class and the CLA on their territory since June 12. The reason for halting the three models from being sold in the Hexagon is the fact that all them still use the refrigerant R134a – a global-warming gas that's about 1,400 times more powerful than carbon dioxide - for their air-conditioning units.
The substance has been banned for use in new vehicles by a European Union directive since the start of 2011. The only exception is being made by vehicles that have been certified before that period, those having until 2017 to comply to the new ruling.
The plot thickened when Daimler argued that the “correct substance” allowed by the EU to replace the R134a air-conditioning coolant is much less safe to be used in vehicles because of a fire risk.
Even though the new coolant had been agreed upon by the car industry after extensive testing, Daimler's own tests identified inadmissible fire hazards in case of accidents and contested France's move in court.
Since the sales ban, over 4,518 vehicles have been prevented from being delivered to French customers, which translate into most of Daimler's business in France and around 2% of global deliveries.
After a administrative court ruling was again made in favor of the sales ban last Thursday, Daimler reacted angrily and called it “absolutely incomprehensible”, vowing to return to court and go all the way.
A statement by the German carmaker said that “virtually all new and used cars on European roads are equipped with the proven and safe refrigerant R134a,” while the court return will march on the grounds that the substance being phased out does not pose a serious environmental threat.
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The new product is great, the only... small problem is that it goes Kaboom!
The SAE risk assessment addressed all test variables in the Daimler test protocol, and confirmed once again that HFO-1234yf can be used safely as an automotive refrigerant. They concluded that the risk of a vehicle fire due to HFO-1234yf is 3 chances in a trillion, and that this is 300,000 times lower than the risk of vehicle fire from all causes.
SAE made its final report documents public at:
- Janet Smith, DuPont