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Crunch meeting for EU over Mobile Air Conditioning Directive

European Commission has met with German and French officials today to clarify legal position of Daimler and non-compliant refrigerant and French ban on new Mercedes A, B and CLA models

The EU Commission is having a crunch meeting today in a bid to break the deadlock between Germany and the rest of Europe over German carmakers’ refusal to comply with the MAC Directive.

A meeting of the EU executive board yesterday confirmed that the French government’s decision not to register new non-compliant Mercedes models was legal, but stressed that they needed to retrospectively ask formal permission from the Commission.

Germany has allowed Daimler to continue to produce new A, B and CLA models with R134a refrigerant, in defiance of the MAC Directive, which bans refrigerant with a GWP of above 150.

As a result, MEPs have called for the EC to make an example of Germany for allowing its carmakers to defy its Directive - and therefore to gain an economic advantage with the cheaper R134a - by issuing infringement proceedings, which could include daily fines.

Among the options open to national governments is to refuse to register non-compliant cars, as France has done.

Last night Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani said he hoped the meeting would assist in finding concrete and urgent solutions’ to re-establish conformity in the EU internal market.

The current only alternative, HFO 1234 yf has just had its GWP re-assessed at less than 1, lower than even CO2 (see story here). Daimler claims that the HFO ignites in a simulated head-on collision whereas R134a doesn’t.\

Car research group SAE International has declared the HFO to have an ‘extremely low’ risk of ignition and all the other global carmakers have agreed that 1234yf is safe to install in new models.

However, industry insiders say they expect the first MAC alternative to be given the go-ahead in October at the SAE’s Thermal Management conference. R444A and R445A (Mexichem’s AC5 and AC6 products) have been shown to have good thermal and safety properties by the SAE’s researchers. (see story here)

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