We all know that the European Union had a saying in Germany’s Mercedes-Benz refusal to equip its models with a new refrigerant for car air conditioning systems. Now, it turns out the deal that led to its creation could also be illegal.
America’s Honeywell International formed a joint venture with chemicals company DuPont to develop and produce the new, R1234yf, coolant to be in accordance to the new environmental rules of the European Union. Mercedes-Benz deemed it unsafe and continues to use the old one, seen as too polluting by the EU officials.
Now, after almost three years of investigation, the European Commission said that the deal between the two companies might infringe EU anti-competitive laws, as the two firms may have blocked rivals to enter the joint-venture and support the development and production.
The new coolant has already been deployed in around 2 million cars on European roads and the Honeywell / Dupont JV has also seen the two firms jointly constructing and operating a global manufacturing plant for the refrigerant.
The EU Commission has already sent to the companies a so-called statement of objections or charge sheet, notifying them they could be in breach of EU antitrust rules, and if the two companies are found guilty they could face a fine of maximum 10% of their global revenues.