Digging Deeper in the Mercedes-Benz vs France AC Refrigerant Saga
It all began on June 12, when France blocked the sales of Mercedes-Benz A-Class, B-Class and CLA models on their territory. The official reason for the sales ban was that the three aforementioned models are still using the R134a refrigerant for their air-conditioning systems, a substance that has been banned by the EU on new vehicles approved for sale since the beginning of 2013 (cars that have been certified earlier have until 2017 to comply).
Apparently, the R134a coolant is a global-warming gas that's about 1400 times more potent than carbon dioxide. In other words, the French are scared that the sale of those three models, accounting for most of Mercedes-Benz recent business in the Hexagon (about 2 percent of their global sales) will open up the ozone layer right on top of the snail-eating messieurs and mademoiselles.
Whether that motive holds any ground isn't debatable, though, since the r134a is actually pretty bad for the environment. What is debatable, or at least kind of sketchy, is the ulterior motives for France being the only country banning the sale of those exact three models.
Especially when knowing that the EU currently has 28 states, of which 27 don't have a single problem with the A-Class, B-Class and CLA models being sold on their turf. On top of that, those aren't the only Mercedes-Benz models, or any car manufacturer's models, for that matter, to still feature the dreaded R134a refrigerant in their air-conditioning units.
What makes Daimler AG special, then? Well, it might be the fact that they were the first and, to a certain degree, the only car company to question the validity of EU's proposed replacement AC coolant, the mysterious R1234yf.
Made by DuPont and Honeywell, the new chemical replacement was chosen by the European Union officials because it significantly reduces CO2 emissions and has a much less global warming potential.
Tested independently by Daimler AG engineers, though, it was found to pose a number of hazards during vehicle crash testing. Apart from an increased risk of fiery death during a crash, the R1234yf was found to emit a highly toxic gas when burning, which it apparently did enough times for the German engineers to have second thoughts about the proposed refrigerant replacement.
Before taking a look at DuPont's and Honeywell's less than pristine environmental records, we should probably think about the multi-billion monopoly these two companies would hold starting with 2017, when the R1234yf coolant replacement will become mandatory on every single car sold in the EU. Don't “multi-billion business” and “government lobby” kind of like go hand in hand?
Just to refresh your memory, DuPont was the inventor of the ozone-depleting Freon, while the US Environmental Protection Agency has put Honeywell in the same sentence with “the greatest number of hazardous toxic waste sites.” On top of that, it's not like the two American giants don't have enough money to topple governments if they really wanted to, because they actually do (have tons of money, ed).
Back to Daimler AG, who are not as lonely in their predicament as most recent news reports would incline to make you think. Their independent test results on the new DuPont and Honeywell refrigerant have caused the formation of a working group called the Cooperative Research Program, under the guidance of the International SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers).
The working group, formed last year and featuring 12 other major car manufacturers besides Daimler, released a confusing joint statement last December after a new round of tests. In short, none of the 12 car companies had expressed any concern about the safety of the new, proposed refrigerant.
Since then, though, Daimler has left that group and has been backed on its findings by both BMW and the VAG group. The three German car giants are now independently researching their own, CO2-based air conditioning systems, thus dismissing the adoption of the DuPont and Honeywell chemical.
For the record, CO2-based refrigerants do not deplete the ozone layer, can reduce total car emissions by up to 10%, are faster to cool and heat a vehicle and most of all are cost-efficient, since carbon dioxide is cheap and available worldwide.
My final questions are this: Is it all a conspiracy? Has the French government been “lobbied” by the two American giants? Last, but not least, do I sound like I'm a tin foil hat-wearing lunatic? Express your thoughts below.
comments written so far
This article makes perfect sense. Greed > environment