by Jacques Gordon
In January 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 concluded with completion of the European Commission’s study of and ruling on the issue.
The controversy is the result of one car manufacturer, Daimler, questioning the safety of a new refrigerant that has been found acceptable by the rest of the auto industry and the European Commission. Daimler’s claims have been exhaustively examined by many others in the industry, and by Germany’s own federal transport authority. While most found fault with those claims, the German government supported Daimler’s test results and allowed the company to back-date their new platforms, legalizing their decision to produce cars using the old refrigerant. Consequently, the EC was asked to step in to provide clarity and legal guidance in this issue.
The European Commission (EC) launched their own study of refrigerant safety through the Joint Research Centre (JRC). That study focused on a review of the German transport ministry’s testing procedures, the risk assessment performed by SAE International, and other studies carried out by suppliers, auto manufacturers and their associates. The JRC asked “all relevant stakeholders” to participate in this review.
The third and final review meeting was completed today, January 23, 2014. Below is an announcement from the Commission’s Enterprise and Industry website.
“The Commission is acting to ensure the enforcement of the MAC Directive by Germany, by requesting that the German authorities fully apply this Directive to vehicles produced by one German manufacturer.
The Commission remains committed to ensuring that the climate objectives of the Directive are fulfilled and that the law is uniformly applied throughout the EU’s internal market, so that fair competitive conditions are ensured for all economic operators.
Under EU infringement procedures, Germany has two months to respond to the letter of formal notice written by the Commission concerning this issue.
Furthermore, on the same day, 23 January 2014, the Commission sent a Pilot letter to the authorities of three Member States that have informed the Commission of similar practices (extension of old vehicle approvals) by their respective type-approval authorities, requesting more information on the situation. These countries are: United Kingdom, Belgium and Luxembourg.”