Mercedes cars banned from sale

Coolant row stops thousands of vehicles from being registered as they use powerful greenhouse gas as refrigerant

9 July 2013

THOUSANDS of new Mercedes cars have been banned from France because their air-conditioning units use a banned coolant gas.

The German firm’s A class, B class, SL sports and CLA models produced since June cannot be registered in France because a new European norm that came into force on January 1 restricts manufacturers to using the less-polluting R1234yf refrigerant in A/C units.

Mercedes has refused to use the new coolant, saying it is easily flammable and would catch fire in an accident – and says it will continue to use the older gas, R134a, and hopes that “in a few years” a new less-flammable gas would be developed.

The company, which last year exported 29,000 vehicles to France, said it had received the support of the German federal agency involved and no other country had taken the action that France had.

However, all other European manufacturers have switched to the newer gas and the European Commission last month threatened Mercedes with legal action if it did not switch.

The older gas is said to be a greenhouse gas 1,000 times worse than CO2 and EC industry commissioner Antonio Tajani said that German authorities had until the end of August to comply or legal action would start.

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