Regulations

EU takes Germany to court over controversial coolant

EU takes Germany to court over controversial coolant

The European Commission said it was taking court action against Germany, accusing it of ignoring a 2013 EU directive that carmakers must use a new air-conditioning coolant called R1234yf.

Germany was warned in September 2014 by the commission, which said on Dec. 10 that it was proceeding to the European Court of Justice. Despite the warning, “Germany has not taken any further steps,” the commission said.

“The European Commission has decided to refer Germany to the Court of Justice of the EU,” the highest court in the 28-nation bloc, the commission said.

“The Commission alleges that Germany has infringed EU law by allowing car manufacturer Daimler AG to place automobile vehicles on the EU market that were not in conformity with the (mobile air conditioning), and failing to take remedial action.”

Heavy fines could result for Germany, based on the duration and severity of the alleged infringement of EU law.

Daimler wants to continue assembling its Mercedes models using R123a until 2017 because the carmaker claimed R1234yf could ignite during a crash and poison occupants and firefighters. Daimler said it intended to comply with the EU law from January 2017 by installing R1234yf, but combined with a fire-protection system on board.

The claim by Daimler has been rejected by the commission’s research institute, Germany’s transport authority, other carmakers and manufacturers of R1234yf.

In July 2013, France banned the sale of some top-end Mercedes cars because they contained the older coolant. A French court later overturned that ban.

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