EC position described as ‘declaration of war’ which could ‘inflict huge damage upon Daimler’s finances and reputation’ say MEPs. Commission implies flammability problems are down to Daimler’s car design
The European Commission has warned that new model types of Daimler cars put on the market anywhere in Europe do not conform to EU law and should not be sold. The tough line follows the carmakers’ continued refusal to convert its cars from R134a refrigerant, thus putting itself at odds with the Mobile Air Conditioning Directive.
EU Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani will appear in front of the Environment Committee tonight to discuss the enforcement of the MAC directive, which has been applicable since 1 January 2013.
Daimler has lobbied hard to be allowed to continue using R134a despite its GWP being over 300 times greater than HFO 1234yf, the refrigerant which has been accepted by all non-German carmakers. Daimler maintains the HFO is unsafe in a head-on collision, igniting under its tests, where R134a did not. Daimler, along with other German carmakers, now wants the EC to grant it enough time to develop CO2 as an alternative for air conditioning.
However, in a Q&A briefing issued on Monday in preparation for today’s committee hearing, the Commission clearly states that motor vehicles which do not conform with the new rules cannot be registered and marketed in the EU. The Commission made it clear that it expects the German authorities to be fully enforcing the new regulations from January 2013.
The EC briefing makes clear that cars contain many inflammable products and implies that if there is an additional risk in Daimler vehicles, it is because of the design of its cars.
UK Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies, who was shadow rapporteur on the drafting of the MAC directive, welcomed the move:
“This amounts to a declaration of war on Daimler. The Commission’s briefing makes clear that new models using the old refrigerant should not be sold. This could hit Daimler’s sales of cars very seriously indeed.”
“It is widely believed that Daimler has been making spurious claims about the safety of the new refrigerant in order to try and avoid paying extra costs of about €20 per vehicle. If this is the case it was a grievous mistake and the company’s revenue could be very severely reduced.”
“Car manufacturers have known of the new requirements for more than 10 years, and others have had no problems in using the new refrigerant, and the suggestion that Daimler’s cars have been poorly designed can only damage the company’s reputation.
“At the debate in the Environment Committee, I will call on Commissioner Tajani to start infringement proceedings not only against Germany but against every EU country that allows the sale of new Daimler models that are not in conformity with the law.”