Antitrust: Commission sends Statement of Objections to Honeywell and DuPont regarding cooperation on new refrigerant used in car air conditioning systems


The European Commission has informed Honeywell International Inc. (Honeywell) and E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont) of its preliminary view that the cooperation they entered into in 2010, based on several agreements on the production of a new refrigerant for use in car air-conditioning systems (R-1234yf), may have limited its availability and technical development, in breach of EU antitrust rules. The sending of a statement of objections does not prejudge the final outcome of the investigation.

In 2006, the EU adopted new standards on air conditioning systems in motor vehicles with the aim of reducing harmful emissions and combating global warming (Directive 2006/40/EC or MAC Directive). R-1234yf is currently the only commercially available refrigerant with a sufficiently low global warming potential (GWP) to comply with the requirements of the MAC Directive. The Commission has concerns that a series of agreements concluded between Honeywell and DuPont in 2010 may have hindered competition on the market for R-1234yf. These agreements relate notably to production arrangements and the development of production processes.

Honeywell and DuPont are the only two suppliers of R-1234yf to carmakers. The Commission’s provisional finding is that the cooperation between Honeywell and DuPont on production of R-1234yf has reduced their decision-making independence and resulted in restrictive effects on competition. These effects include a limitation of the available quantities of the new refrigerant that would have otherwise been brought to the market, as well as a limitation of related technical development. In the specific circumstances of the case, this behaviour may infringe Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and Article 53 of the EEA (European Economic Area) Agreement that prohibit anticompetitive agreements.

Background

The MAC Directive requires the use of refrigerants with a GWP below 150 in all new car models sold in the EU as of 1 January 2011, and in all new cars as of 1 January 2017. In December 2011, the Commission opened formal proceedings into the development of the new refrigerant R-1234yf (see IP/11/1560). In today’s statement of objections, the Commission pursues this investigation regarding the production cooperation between Honeywell and DuPont but not on Honeywell’s conduct during the evaluation of R-1234yf between 2007 and 2009.

Article 101 TFEU prohibits anti-competitive agreements and restrictive business practices which may affect trade between EU Member States. The implementation of this provision is defined in the Antitrust Regulation (Council Regulation No 1/2003) which can be applied by the Commission and by the national competition authorities.

A statement of objections is a formal step in Commission investigations into suspected violations of EU antitrust rules. The Commission informs the parties concerned in writing of the objections raised against them. The addressees can examine the documents in the Commission’s investigation file, reply in writing and request an oral hearing to present their comments on the case before representatives of the Commission and national competition authorities.

If, after the parties have exercised their rights of defence, the Commission concludes that there is sufficient evidence of an infringement, it can issue a decision prohibiting the conduct and impose a fine of up to 10% of a company’s annual worldwide turnover.

For more information, you may consult the Commission’s public case register on the competition website under the case number 39822.

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Hot advice for heater diagnosis


When a cold winter, produces a lot of no-heat complaints. And with the struggling economy, the word we hear from most shops is that customers are not willing to spend
for extras. So what’s a conscientious shop looking to pay its bills to do? Hopefully it’s learning how to run a year round marketing program that keeps the shop from slowing
to a crawl even through tough times.

Some repair shops focus on just getting the job out by doing the minimum,with the least amount of shop labor. Well, unless you are very careful, trying to do the minimum can lead to a lot of comebacks, and jobs that made very little money in the first place, turn to losers.

Sure, when there are cars waiting for service parked all over the place, some shops opt for diagnostic shortcuts –which translates to “replace all the possibly bad parts and
expect the problem to go away.” These types of jobs are typically given to young technicians whose wrench skills are better than their diagnostic abilities.

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But now? Winter is coming and good temperature control from the heating system also will be a factor in A/C performance as the weather eventually gets warmer.
Let us recommend the approach that we prefer even in more prosperous times: more diagnosis. A lot of the time, extra diagnosis will go faster than throwing parts at a
problem, so you end up with more net dollars (who said installing a new water pump is a quick job). And if your diagnostic approach is thoughtful, it should take less time
than jumping around.

You can learn a lot simply with temperature readings from an infrared thermometer, although they usually read somewhat lower than the reading from the engine’s coolant temperature sensor. And you often can get a rough idea of water pump condition by squeezing the upper radiator hose and waiting for the feel of
pressure when the thermostat opens.

Most important is to get a diagnostic result in which you have enough confidence to also make the motorist more confident. So even if the ticket estimate is a bit more than
he really wanted to spend, he’ll often say yes because he’ll be thinking, “this is it” – but only if you can say, “this is it.”

If you’re a service professional and not a MACS member yet, you should be! Become a member and receive a technical newsletter with information like what you’ve just read in this blog post visit http://bit.ly/10zvMYg for more information.

You can E-mail us at macsworldwide@macsw.org . To locate a Mobile Air Conditioning Society member repair shop in your area. Click here to find out more about your car’s mobile A/C and engine cooling system.

Mobile A/C professionals should plan to attend 35th annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Training Conference and Trade Show, Meet me at MACS Make Connections that Matter, February 5-7, 2015 at the Caribe Royale, Orlando, FL.

Posted in Automotive, Automotive Aftermarket, Automotive training | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cool things can come in small packages


MACS member Gordon Marks of Marks Air in Tampa, FL shares some photos from a recent A/C job. A Cushman vehicle that is used by a local golf course maintenance team and since they are working in Florida, the occupant wants to stay cool.

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Gordon tells us this is one of the smallest compressors he’s ever worked on.
Do you have a job you want to share? Email us at macsworldwide@macsw.org

If you’re a service professional and not a MACS member yet, you should be! Become a member and receive a technical newsletter with information like what you’ve just read in this blog post visit http://bit.ly/10zvMYg for more information.

You can E-mail us at macsworldwide@macsw.org . To locate a Mobile Air Conditioning Society member repair shop in your area. Click here to find out more about your car’s mobile A/C and engine cooling system.

Mobile A/C professionals should plan to attend 35th annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Training Conference and Trade Show, Meet me at MACS Make Connections that Matter, February 5-7, 2015 at the Caribe Royale, Orlando, FL.

Posted in #off road vehicles, Automotive, Mobile Air Conditioning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is that a smartkey in your pocket? An important tip


Nissan encountered the “smartkey” issue with its Juke sporty crossover, and with all the smartkeys in use, and just so many suppliers, it’s certainly is possible across other makes—no one can tell you it can’t happen (and we have heard anecdotal reports on other cars): the customer drove the car into the shop, left the key with you, and now it won’t start. The cause: you have smartkeys from other cars in your pocket, and one is sending a false signal to the vehicle electronics, which “thinks” that maybe someone is trying to start the wrong car, perhaps even a thief.

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Many of us have encountered a situation where we think we’ve arrived at our car in a parking lot, and we get into the wrong car (or we can’t get into what we think is our car). But the intelligent key miscommunications on unlocked cars are another matter, and the Juke is an example that says they do happen, as unlikely as some software engineer who’s written the rolling code for one of these keys may think it is.

So hanging up all the keys on a pegboard and taking just the one for the car you’re going to work on should become a work habit  (and maybe don’t forget the smartkey for your own car in the process).

If you’re a service professional and not a MACS member yet, you should be! Become a member and receive a technical newsletter with information like what you’ve just read in this blog post visit http://bit.ly/10zvMYg for more information.

You can E-mail us at macsworldwide@macsw.org . To locate a Mobile Air Conditioning Society member repair shop in your area. Click here to find out more about your car’s mobile A/C and engine cooling system.

Mobile A/C professionals should plan to attend 35th annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Training Conference and Trade Show,
Meet me at MACS Make Connections that Matter, February 5-7, 2015 at the Caribe Royale, Orlando, FL.

Posted in Automotive, Automotive Aftermarket, Electrical/Electronic | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why is lithium ion gaining popularity for EV applications?


Certainly, it isn’t because of low-cost. Lithium ion (Li-ion) is much more expensive than the nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery technology it is replacing. However, both specific energy and energy density of a lithium-ion battery pack is much greater than NiMH, saving weight and space in automotive applications. These considerations are not trivial in today’s world, as motorists clamor for more room in the car, and weight reduction is equated with increased fuel economy.

2011 Chevrolet Volt

There are a number of different types of lithium ion batteries being used in current EVs and PHEVs. The major difference between them is the materials used to construct the cell’s positive electrode. Higher energy cells (such as those used in consumer electronics) use lithium cobalt oxide and tend to be intolerant to overcharging and other abuse. When these cells overheat, the electrode releases oxygen into a flammable organic electrolyte, which can lead to thermal runaway. If you’ve ever witnessed a laptop computer fire, this is likely what caused it.

There is ongoing development taking place on lithium ion electrodes that are more stable, but this generally results in a less powerful battery. For instance, the Chevrolet Volt has used a lithium manganese spinel based electrode which is less energetic but much more manageable than its cobalt oxide cousin. GM has now licensed nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) technology from the Argonne National Laboratory that further improves the Volt’s battery performance at every level. The combination of improved battery chemistry and more effective thermal management makes HV battery packs progressively safer and longer-lived for the EVs of the future.

If you’re a service professional and not a MACS member yet, you should be! Become a member and receive a technical newsletter with information like what you’ve just read in this blog post visit http://bit.ly/10zvMYg for more information.

You can E-mail us at macsworldwide@macsw.org . To locate a Mobile Air Conditioning Society member repair shop in your area. Click here to find out more about your car’s mobile A/C and engine cooling system.

Mobile A/C professionals should plan to attend 35th annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Training Conference and Trade Show, Meet me at MACS Make Connections that Matter, February 5-7, 2015 at the Caribe Royale, Orlando, FL.

Posted in Automotive training, Electrical/Electronic, Mobile Air Conditioning | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

U.S. fuel economy reaches all-time high


New vehicles achieved an all-time-high fuel economy in 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency announced. Model year 2013 vehicles achieved an average of 24.1 miles per gallon (mpg)  — a 0.5 mpg increase over the previous year and an increase of nearly 5 mpg since 2004. Fuel economy has now increased in eight of the last nine years. The average carbon dioxide emissions are also at a record low of 369 grams per mile in model year 2013.

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EPA’s annual “Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 through 2014” report tracks average fuel economy of new cars and SUVs sold in the United States. The report also ranks automakers’ achievements in model year 2013.

Some additional top-line findings from the report:
•    The recent fuel economy improvement is a result of automakers’ rapid adoption of more efficient technologies such as gasoline direct injection engines, turbochargers, and advanced transmissions.
•    Mazda vehicles averaged the highest fuel economy and lowest greenhouse gas emissions.
•    Nissan achieved the greatest improvement in average fuel economy and greenhouse gas reductions.
•    SUVs achieved the greatest improvement in all classes of new personal vehicles.
“Today’s announcement points to the greatness of American ingenuity and the strength of our auto industry. Our report shows that today’s vehicles are saving Americans money at the pump while emitting fewer greenhouse gasses. We are thrilled to see that manufacturers continue to innovate and are bringing technologies to improve fuel economy online even faster than anticipated,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Consumers now have many more choices when shopping for vehicles with higher fuel economy and lower emissions compared to just five years ago. These choices reflect both a more diverse range of technology packages on conventional gasoline vehicles as well as more advanced technology and alternative-fueled vehicles.”

EPA and the Department of Transportation have implemented standards projected to double fuel economy by 2025 and cut vehicle greenhouse gas emissions by half.
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These standards are driving new vehicle technology including innovations in mobile A/C systems.

The EPA estimates these standards will save American families more than $8,000 in fuel costs per vehicle by 2025. Throughout the duration of the program, Americans will save $1.7 trillion in fuel costs, use 12 billion fewer barrels of oil, and in 2025, reduce oil consumption by more than 2 million barrels a day – as much as half of the oil imported from OPEC every day.

The new report is at: http://epa.gov/otaq/fetrends.htm

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That relay really stinks!


By Steve Schaeber, MACS Technical Editor

Here’s a situation where your nose can be the best tool in your box. A fellow technician was diagnosing a “high hi-side” issue on a Pontiac Sunfire, when he asked me for some advice. I explained that one of the most common causes of “high hi-side” pressures is due to condenser air flow issues. That being said, it’s not like there’s only one thing that can affect how air flows across a condenser. There are actually quite a few reasons why air flow may be impeded, causing elevated high side pressure. For example, there can be dirt or debris actually clogging the passageways, or sometimes even a plastic shopping bag could get sucked up onto the condenser inlet. That would really block the flow of air, likely causing the engine coolant temperature to increase as well. Perhaps those rubber or plastic air shrouds are not in the correct position to properly direct air towards the heat exchangers. Many times they are even missing, perhaps damaged or thought unnecessary by a previous technician. But as is usually the case, suspect something with the operation of the fan itself.

Figure 1 - vlcsnap-2014-10-08-10h23m49s85 High Hi-Side due to Blocked Condenser

Figure 1: A tell tale sign of condenser air flow problems, low side pressure will look normal while high side pressure will be much higher than usual.

In this particular case, it was mostly luck that helped me find the problem. It appeared that the cooling fan was not spinning fast enough, but it was hard to tell for sure. I happened to be standing out along the driver’s side front fender, so I crouched down to gaze at the fan. The cover was off of the under hood fuse / relay center at the time, when my nose got a bit close to the bank of relays. When breathing in, I noticed a “burnt electric” smell, which immediately reminded me of all those relays I had replaced in the past. I went over to the work bench and grabbed an old relay of the same type (they’re always handy to keep around). I swapped it out with the fan relay, and voilà! It began spinning noticeably faster than before. Upon further inspection of the disassembled relay, I found the corroded contacts, likely offering resistance enough to slow down the fan and reduce the volume of air passing over the condenser. With a new relay, that fan was blowing strong, and the high side pressure came back down to about 160psi.

Figure 2 - S1600036

Figure 2: Burned relay contacts can provide enough resistance to slow down a fan motor.

Ever have a “dumb luck” moment that saved the day in your shop? Send an e-mail to steve@macsw.org and let me know!

If you’re a service professional and not a MACS member yet, you should be! Become a member and receive a technical newsletter with information like what you’ve just read in this blog post visit http://bit.ly/10zvMYg for more information.

You can E-mail us at macsworldwide@macsw.org . To locate a Mobile Air Conditioning Society member repair shop in your area. Click here to find out more about your car’s mobile A/C and engine cooling system.

Mobile A/C professionals should plan to attend 35th annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Training Conference and Trade Show, Meet me at MACS Make Connections that Matter, February 5-7, 2015 at the Caribe Royale, Orlando, FL.

Posted in Automotive Aftermarket, Automotive training | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Just the facts about Section 609 Certification and refrigerant handling in MVACS


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We are always surprised when we receive phone calls from automotive service personnel who have no idea what Section 609 Certification is all about and that there are indeed federally mandated regulations for refrigerant recovery and recycling.

The United States Environmental Protection agency maintains and updates web pages that present summaries of all of the pertinent information.

Check out http://www.epa.gov/ozone/title6/609/justfax.html to educate yourself and your shop personnel on what you need to know to comply with federal regulations.

If you’re a service professional and not a MACS member yet, you should be! Become a member and receive a technical newsletter with information like what you’ve just read in this blog post visit http://bit.ly/10zvMYg for more information.

You can E-mail us at macsworldwide@macsw.org . To locate a Mobile Air Conditioning Society member repair shop in your area. Click here to find out more about your car’s mobile A/C and engine cooling system.

Mobile A/C professionals should plan to attend 35th annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Training Conference and Trade Show, Meet me at MACS Make Connections that Matter, February 5-7, 2015 at the Caribe Royale, Orlando, FL.

 

 

Posted in Automotive, Automotive Aftermarket, Automotive training, Mobile Air Conditioning, Refrigerants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are you flying the MACS colors?


By Steve Schaeber, MACS Technical Editor

Did you know that there are currently over one million technicians certified through MACS under Section 609 of the Clean Air Act? Chances are that if your shop performs A/C work, you too have employees who hold a “MACS Certification” as it’s commonly called in the shop.

 

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Your “MACS Certification” lets everyone know that you’ve completed training in refrigerant recycling and service procedures.

The only time technicians usually look at their own credentials is when it’s requested by an employer or (hopefully not) when it’s requested as part of an “official investigation”. Otherwise, they are kept safely tucked away with other licenses and certificates, either in a tool box drawer at work, or maybe with other important papers at home. But did you know that a MACS certification is something you could do a lot more with? Why not put it out on display for all to see?

Many shops like to tout their employees’ credentials. Shop owners want their customers to know about their dedication to continued improvement. Customers like their vehicles taken care of by those who remain on the cutting edge of technology and knowledge. Technicians like to shows off their accomplishments as they strive towards furthering their education. Next time you’re in the customer reception area of your shop, take a look around at the walls and see what’s hanging up there. Chances are you’ll find things such as ASE Certifications, State Inspection Licenses, and MACS Certificates. If not, maybe it’s time to get them out and show them off!

The extra step to excellence is becoming a member of MACS! Click here to find out more.

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Show your customers that your employees take that extra step.

Any employee who opens the refrigeration circuit of a mobile air conditioner must be certified. Contact MACS today at www.macsw.org or call 215.631.7020 for more information. We are the experts when it comes to mobile A/C, and we can help you comply with the law!

Posted in Automotive, Automotive Aftermarket, Automotive training, Electrical/Electronic, Mobile Air Conditioning, Refrigerants | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NARSA and MACS team up to grow your business with March 2015 seminar


NARSA                                                                          macsbevel

The leadership of NARSA and MACS are working together to offer members a high-value business marketing management seminar focused on, Social Media: Developing Social Media Strategies for Bottom-Line Results for Your Business!”

This valuable two-day seminar will take place Thursday, March 5 and Friday, March 6, 2015 at a hotel near the airport in Atlanta, GA. Dynamic and engaging facilitator Ted Janusz, of National Seminars will lead the group in discovering successful marketing strategies that lead to real business profits.

“We are very pleased to work with MACS to maximize our resources and to provide our members with a top-quality learning experience to acquire more of the knowledge they need to take their businesses to new levels of performance,” remarked Pat O’Connor, vice president sales and marketing of S.A. Day Flux Facility of Johnson Mfg. Co., 2013-2014 NARSA president.

“Marketing and the use of social media are a real challenge to today’s service shop owner, parts warehouse manager and manufacturer,” explained Andy Fiffick, MACS chairman and chief executive officer and president Rad-Air, Cleveland, OH. “I personally am looking forward to this meeting to bring back ideas to integrate into my repair business.”

“We designed this seminar to meet the real-world needs of entrepreneurs, business owners and managers engaged in heat transfer and A/C products and service businesses. It is compact, subject matter is on target, and participants will have great interaction with their peers,” commented Wayne Juchno, executive director NARSA – The International Heat Exchange Association.

“In today’s challenging automotive aftermarket you have to differentiate yourself to stand out, we are happy to team with NARSA to help educate our members to excel in the marketplace,” said Elvis L. Hoffpauir, MACS president and chief operating officer.

Hold these dates on your calendar now, NARSA and MACS will release final registration information soon.

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