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French court overturns Mercedes refrigerant ban

A ban by France’s Ministry of Ecology on the sale of Mercedes cars using r134a refrigerant has been overturned by the country’s highest court, the French State Council.

The Council has stated that the ban was unwarranted as the Mercedes-Benz A, B, CLA and SL models using the refrigerant do not present a serious threat to the environment.

Mercedes has previously rejected a switch to the r1234yf alternative which has been brought in under the EU’s MAC Directive, which it claims is potentially flammable – a position denied by the refrigerant producers.

Last September, the Council of State temporarily lifted the ban on the Mercedes models, allowing around 5,000 cars to be delivered.

In a statement the Conseil d’Etat (French State Council) said: “The Council of State has, at the request of Mercedes-Benz France, cancelled the decision of 26 July, 2013 [by France’s ecology ministry, including transport] to refuse registration of Daimler-produced vehicles for a maximum period of six months”.

“The Council of State estimates none of the reasons put forward by the ministry to justify its decision…were among those catered for by the traffic [act] to justify a safeguard measure.

“The minister did not demonstrate use of the vehicles in question, which represent a very small part of the French automobile parc, would lead to a serious impact on the environment.”

The EC’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) scientific body, recently published a report backing the use of the r1234yf refrigerant while Brussels also launched the first steps in an infringement procedure against Germany for its supposed non-compliance with the Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) Directive.

1234yf manufacturer Honeywell has reiterated its stance, calling on the EU to enforce the use of the refrigerant. It said: “Despite the ruling of the court, Honeywell continues to advocate speedy enforcement of the EU Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) Directive and will support its customers, who have adopted HFO-1234yf as a safe and cost-effective way to comply with the law.

The safe use of HFO-1234yf has been proven repeatedly through comprehensive tests and evaluations conducted by third-party experts, including most recently by the Joint Research Centre, which provides independent scientific and technical advice to the European Commission to broadly support policy-setting activities.

If enforced broadly and effectively, the MAC Directive can achieve the equivalent of removing 8 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, or removing 4 million cars from European roads. An estimated 1 million cars are already using HFO-1234yf safely, and the number is expected to double by the end of this year.” 

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