German government apparently backs Daimler in dispute over refrigerant
by Jacques Gordon
August 20, 2013 – British on-line magazine just-auto.com has reported that the German government is supporting Daimler in its decision to continue using R-134a despite European Commission regulations banning the refrigerant in new vehicle platforms introduced this model year. This officially escalates the situation from a disagreement over automotive technology to a political dispute between the European Union, Germany and France. The French government has banned registration of new Mercedes-Benz A, B, CLA and SL models with R-134a refrigerant, which they view as “highly polluting.”
Earlier this month, Germany’s Transport Ministry supported Daimler’s decision to continue using R-134a instead of R-1234yf, the only commercially available refrigerant that meets EC regulations for new models introduced in the 2013 model year. In a statement to just-auto.com, the Transport Ministry says “The Federal Government is of the opinion the proposed extension of the approval of Daimler, with additional variants [to sell vehicles with R-134a] is lawful.” This means the government in Berlin also supports Daimler’s decision. The statement continues; “The next step takes place at technical level – discussions – between the [European] Commission and the BMVBS [Transport Ministry]. The Commission then decides how they will proceed in the EU Pilot process further.”
The EU Pilot process is a project that has been operating since April 2008. The goal is to provide solutions to problems arising in the application of EU laws in a Member State. The Commission has threatened “appropriate infringement measures” against Germany in this case. It has also confirmed that it has received Germany’s response to questions surrounding the use of R-134a and is now assessing its response before deciding on “appropriate” action. “Under the pilot procedure rules the deadline for the Commission to respond is in ten weeks time,” an EC official said. That 10-week clock actually began running earlier this month.
Meanwhile, French Mercedes dealers are saying up to 1,500 staff may be “made partially redundant” as a result of cars not being delivered.
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