By Steve Schaeber, MACS Technical Editor
GM was the first manufacturer to sell a vehicle in the United States that uses the new R-1234yf refrigerant when they came out with the Cadillac XTS in 2012 as a 2013 model. Since then we haven’t seen a whole lot of cars being filled with the gas, except for certain FCA (Chrysler) products over the past few years. Things are starting to change this year however, as 2016 is proving to be the start of an industry-wide change over to the more environmentally friendly fluid with more brands using it in more vehicles than ever before.
We’ve been anticipating this change too, as industry insiders have said that since EPA passed Rule # 20 last summer, which outlaws the use of R-134a in new vehicles beginning with the 2021 model year, that car makers would begin to change over their fleet to the new gas when they introduce new vehicle platforms. That’s exactly what happened with the MY2017 Chevrolet Malibu, the 9th generation of one of GM’s most popular cars.
MACS first saw the new E2XX platform Malibu at its unveiling in New York’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center at the 2015 NY Auto Show, but at that time it was still using R-134a. We checked again at the 2016 Philadelphia Auto Show, and sure enough it still had HFCs. But we were told to expect a change this summer, and we were happy to find R-1234yf in the 2017s when we visited Bergey’s Chevrolet in Colmar, our local dealer here in PA. They had just started getting the new models in late August, and by the time we stopped by there were about 10 on the lot.
Let’s do a quick comparison of the refrigerant amounts between the 2016 and 2017 Malibu. In 2016 the charge spec calls for 698 grams, or 24 ounces of refrigerant R-134a. According to the label for 2017, the R-1234yf charge amount is less, listed at only 600 grams, or 21.16 ounces. That’s only 85% of last year’s charge, or a decrease of 15%. The main reason for using less refrigerant comes down to the efficiency of the A/C system. We know that the IHX is there to increase the performance of systems that use yf, but coupled with other efficiencies like eVDCs (electronically controlled variable displacement compressors) with built-in oil separators, significantly smaller oil charges (less oil circulating throughout the system), ultra tight seals and sub-cooled, micro-channel condensers, that extra amount of refrigerant simply is not needed. One also must take into consideration the cost of the refrigerant itself. At upwards of 39 times higher in price as compared to R-134a, R-1234yf is expensive enough for OEMs to find ways to reduce the amount of refrigerant used in their systems in an attempt to reduce costs as much as possible without reducing performance.
More information about Bergey’s Chevrolet can be found on their www.bergeyschevrolet.com website. You can also find out more about the 2017 Chevrolet Malibu by visiting www.chevrolet.com and clicking on VEHICLES.
Do you enjoy reading stories about the new vehicles that are being made with R-1234yf refrigerant? You can read more at MACS WordPress BLOG by clicking here: https://macsworldwide.wordpress.com/ and typing “1234yf” in the search bar. We’ve documented several vehicles that are using the gas with more on the way!