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Refrigerant war of words escalates


Well this is quite interesting. We reported a while back about France banning the use of a particular refrigerant – R134a – and how this measure would basically ban a variety of Mercedes-Benz models from being sold in the country.

We haven’t reported on it since then but we have been keeping an eye on the situation and some interesting things have happened in the meanwhile. A few days ago a French court ordered a 10 day stay for the decision, basically lifting the ban and Daimler expressed confidence that the French government would abide by that ruling. Well, they were wrong.

It appears that the French government is now invoking a ‘safeguard procedure’ of the EU allowing its member states to act unilaterally to avoid a serious risk involving the environment, public health or traffic safety, thus reinstituting the ban. As far as the German automaker goes, Daimler has promised to continue fighting the decision so that it can sell the A Class, B Class, CLS and SL cars in France.

According to the French environment ministry, the Daimler/Mercedes vehicles do not conform to current European regulation, while Daimler responded calling the decision ‘absolutely inexplicable’ and promised more litigation. When it comes to the EU, representatives of the Union are talking to both French and German governments in order to schedule bilateral talks in September in order to resolve this dispute.

The French official frame the matter as being an environmental issue, while supporters of the German carmaker thing that national politics are in the background so as to favor local automakers .

The head of the Association of Mercedes-Benz dealers in France has said that around five thousand deliveries have already been affected and orders were down twenty percent and the Mercedes models involved make up about half of the association’s sales.

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