The EU has warned Germany it might face legal action regarding Daimler’s refusal to stop using a banned refrigerant in its new vehicles, after France block most Mercedes sales.
The EU confirmed on Tuesday, July 9th, that France has blocked registrations of Mercedes models which use the banned air conditioning coolant. This would be the latest tension between Germany and its partners in Europe regarding the direction of auto industry policy and regulation. Officials have already began to probe Daimler’s and Berlin’s refusal to comply with the EU regulation which bans the air-conditioning coolant R134a.
Commission spokesman Carlo Corazza told Reuters that if the breach will be confirmed, Brussels “may take necessary action including where appropriate infringement procedures” against Germany. Daimler said that France blocked new registrations for the Mercedes SL sports car and A- and B-Class subcompacts, which account for more than 50% of the automaker’s sales in the region.
France banned Mercedes vehicles manufactured beginning with June 12th, but this has already begun to hurt the automaker’s sales. Daimler refuses to phase out the R134a coolant due to safety concerns, it says that the available replacement refrigerant, the Honeywell R1234yf, emits toxic hydrogen fluoride gas when it burns.
“The controversial CO2 debate showed that Europe is grappling with divergent interests among its key players,” said Steffen Bilger, a federal lawmaker with Merkel’s governing CDU who sits on the cross-party transport committee.”It can’t be ruled out that Germany’s voting behavior also played a certain role” in France’s decision to halt Mercedes registrations.