France acts to ban Mercedes vehicles

Row over use of obsolete AC gas leads calls for UK to follow suit

Published:  19 July, 2013

THE European Commission has given backing to a ban by the French government on the registration of Mercedes A-class, B-class and SL cars. The reason for the ban is due to the German VMs refusal to cease using an obsolete refrigerant known to harm the environment.

The use of the old gas - known as R134a - was banned from newly type-approved vehicles in the EU from the start of 2012. Every car manufacturer except Mercedes' parent company Daimler AG has complied with the law - mainly by using a new refrigerant called R1234yf that has a global warming potential less than that of carbon dioxide.

Daimler claimed that the new gas is more flammable, but other manufacturers claim that any problems Daimler has are caused by bad design. The firm did not cite the high cost of the gas, but gram for gram it is several times more expensive than R134a.

The EU law on mobile air conditioning should mean that no new car models can be put on sale if they do not comply with the law but the German government gave Daimler certificates its new models. This caused an outcry from France, which believes the car maker has an unfair competitive advantage over its own marques.

Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies is calling on UK Ministers to follow the French lead.

Davies said, "Daimler is cheating and the German government has allowed it to get away with breaking the rules. Every car manufacturer in Britain is meeting the requirements to combat global warming emissions.  We cannot have one law for them and another for their German competitors."

R134a has a global warming potential some 1,300 times greater than carbon dioxide. However, it has not been banned everywhere. In the USA it is still used for so called 'canned air' gas dusters.

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