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BMW pulls out of car research programme over refrigerant dispute: UPDATE

BMW has pulled out of the group set up to research concerns raised by fellow German carmaker Daimler over HFO 1234yf.

German carmakers appear to be uniting around Daimler over its concerns over HFO1234yf, following the news that BMW has pulled out of the Co-operative Research Program set up by car research group SAE International.

Reuters reported this morning that BMW had left the CRP looking at safety concerns over 1234yf, and German media has reported that the VW group is following suit.

The final report from SAE on 1234yf is due to be published in the summer.

“Today we have ended our observer role in the working group” a BMW spokesman told Reuters yesterday, “We do not want to say the test results are wrong, but we are not convinced the methods applied are sufficient to achieve a definitive conclusion that guarantees our high safety standards,” he said.

The moves will increase the tension over 1234yf. All the other global carmakers have confirmed their support for the refrigerant and have underscored their belief that there are no new risks to consider. But Daimler continues to maintain that its own tests show that the HFO ignites in a head-on collision, whereas R134a did not.

Last month, the European Commission confirmed that it would seek infringement proceedings against countries that did not convert away from R134a under the terms of the Mobile Air Conditioning Directive.

MEP Chris Davies has called for the EC to press the German authorities to prosecute Daimler over its stance, which he described as ‘anti-competitive’ and ‘criminal’.

Honeywell, the co-developer of HFO 1234yf responded strongly: “The decision by Daimler to pull out of the cooperative research program — which had included 13 automakers from Europe, the U.S. and Asia — shows its unwillingness to accept SAE’s proven, scientific, peer-based approach that repeatedly demonstrated the product is safe as well as the fact that other automakers have been able to effectively and safely use 1234yf. Unlike the SAE approach, Daimler’s testing was conducted without the participation of any reputable third party and without consultation with others in the industry. Also, this testing came on the eve of the MAC Directive, despite the fact that automakers had six years to prepare for compliance.”


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