The European Commission has sent a Statement of Objections to Honeywell and DuPont regarding cooperation on the refrigerant 1234yf.
In a statement it said: “The European Commission has informed Honeywell International Inc. (Honeywell) and E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont) of its preliminary view that the cooperation they entered into in 2010, based on several agreements on the production of a new refrigerant for use in car air-conditioning systems (R-1234yf), may have limited its availability and technical development, in breach of EU antitrust rules.
The sending of a statement of objections does not prejudge the final outcome of the investigation.
In 2006, the EU adopted new standards on air conditioning systems in motor vehicles with the aim of reducing harmful emissions and combating global warming (Directive 2006/40/EC or MAC Directive). R-1234yf is currently the only commercially available refrigerant with a sufficiently low global warming potential (GWP) to comply with the requirements of the MAC Directive.
The Commission has concerns that a series of agreements concluded between Honeywell and DuPont in 2010 may have hindered competition on the market for R-1234yf.
These agreements relate notably to production arrangements and the development of production processes.
Honeywell and DuPont are the only two suppliers of R-1234yf to carmakers.
The Commission’s provisional finding is that the cooperation between Honeywell and DuPont on production of R-1234yf has reduced their decision-making independence and resulted in restrictive effects on competition.
These effects include a limitation of the available quantities of the new refrigerant that would have otherwise been brought to the market, as well as a limitation of related technical development. In the specific circumstances of the case, this behaviour may infringe Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and Article 53 of the EEA (European Economic Area) Agreement that prohibit anticompetitive agreements.”
Nearly half a million cars are now reported to be on the road today using R1234yf, and by the end of 2014, the number of vehicles is expected to exceed 2 million.