Toyota goes back to Europe’s banned refrigerant image

Toyota Motor Company said it has switched back to using the air conditioner refrigerant R134a for some Toyota and Lexus models in Europe in response to public pressure in Germany.

Until Toyota’s decision, Daimler was the only automaker that refused to phase out R-134a. Daimler claims the only available replacement, R1234yf, poses a potential fire hazard. R134a has been banned from new vehicles built in the EU since the start of the year to help meet climate protection targets.

“We have equipped three models with the old refrigerant in order to respect our customers’ safety concerns because of the controversy in Germany,” said a spokesman for the Japanese company.

Toyota is no longer producing any vehicles for Europe with R1234yf, which is manufactured by Honeywell and DuPont. Previously, the Toyota Prius Plus, GT86 and Lexus GS were all equipped with the chemical. Toyota is still “very confident” about the new refrigerant’s safety but the company wanted to avoid being drawn into the debate about its use, the spokesman commented.

Just to remember what the “fuss” is all about, Daimler is challenging a French ban on its Mercedes cars that use the old refrigerant. Authorities in France have refused to register Mercedes A-class, B-class and CLA-class models built since mid-June because they use R-134a and do not comply with the EU directive.