by Jacques Gordon
Earlier this month we published a timeline that charts the ongoing controversy over automotive A/C refrigerant entitled “Refrigerant Regulations, D-Day plus One Year” (http://tinyurl.com/m6gvwk5). The next item in that timeline has just begun.
The controversy is the result of one car manufacturer, Daimler, questioning the safety of a new refrigerant that has been accepted by the rest of the auto industry and the European Commission. Daimler raised this issue after several new models began rolling of the production with the new refrigerant, including a few models of their own. Daimler’s claims have been exhaustively examined by many others in the industry, and by Germany’s own KBA (type-approval and market surveillance authority). Most have found fault with Daimler’s claims, but the German government supported Daimler’s decision to produce cars using the old refrigerant in violation of European Commission (EC) regulations. Consequently, the EC was asked to step in “to provide clarity about the testing plans, procedures and results of the enhanced (risk) analysis…carried out by the German KBA.”
As noted in our earlier article, this week the Commission began their study of refrigerant safety through the Joint Research Centre (JRC). That study will focus on a review of the KBA testing procedures, of the risk assessment performed by the SAE, and of other studies carried out by suppliers, auto manufacturers and their associates. In contrast to most other studies, the JRC issued a “call for stakeholder input” in which they asked “all relevant stakeholders” to participate in this review.
The basic reason for the JRC’s review of all available data became clear when they called stakeholder participation “essential to provide for transparency and confidence in the process.” The Commission also notes this process “does not entail the approval by the stakeholders of the JRC report.”
Three JRC meetings have been scheduled; November 20th and December 11th of this year, and a recently-announced third date of January 22, 2014. These meetings will focus on scientific and technical issues, and participants are expected to contribute data-supported technical expertise to the discussions.
At the conclusion of this process, the European Commission may exercise its authority to enforce the ban against R-134a refrigerant. Enforcement actions would be directed against the government of any EU country that registers non-compliant vehicles for use on public roads.
The 34th annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Training Conference and Trade Show, Power Up will take place January 16-18 2014 at the Sheraton New Orleans. Go here to register.
The Mobile Air Conditioning Society’s blog has been honored as the best business to business blog in the Automotive Aftermarket by the Automotive Communications Awards and the Car Care Council Women’s Board!
When having your mobile A/C system professionally serviced, insist on proper repair procedures and quality replacement parts. Insist on recovery and recycling so that refrigerant can be reused and not released into the atmosphere.
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