Categorized | Auto News

Air-Con Quandary

Air-Con Quandary

The pollutants produced in the manufacture and running of cars has been under scrutiny for fifty years or more and as time has gone on there have been many clean green advances in the science. We have now reached the stage where cars pollute the atmosphere far less than was ever dreamed about a few scant decades ago.

Now though, an argument, or debate, has arisen over the type of refrigerant used in car air-conditioning systems. Toyota said it has switched back to using the air conditioner refrigerant known as R134a for some Toyota and Lexus models in Europe in response to public pressure in Germany.

Up until now R134a has been banned from new vehicles built in the EU since the start of the year to meet climate protection targets. The problem seems to be that  the replacement labelled R1234yf is, according to German car makers Daimler/Mercedes-Benz, a potential fire hazard. The suggestion is that one risk is replaced by another.

The result is that Toyota are now saying that they have equipped three models with the old refrigerant in order to respect customers’ safety concerns because of this controversy in Germany. The Japanese company doesn’t actually have a problem with the new refrigerant but did not want to be sucked into the increasingly acrimonious debate.

That debate is with the French Government. Daimler is challenging a French ban on its Mercedes cars that use the old refrigerant. Authorities in France have refused to register Mercedes A-class, B-class and CLA-class models built since mid-June because they use R-134a and do not comply with the EU directive. Daimler, on the other hand, says the vehicles are type-approved in Germany and should be allowed to be registered anywhere in the EU.

France fights back by saying that the ban is legally permissible under an EU law that protects the environment and public health and a French court is going to decide this political issue. France is the only European country to stop the registrations of cars with this refrigerant. This could rumble on as it is yet another case where national and European issues overlap and clash. It has to be said that there does not seem to have been any issues with the old refrigerant so drivers shouldn’t be concerned either way until and if there is some substance to the suggestion. In the meantime the motor industry becomes another political football.

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- who has written 474 posts on Motor Blogger.

Geoff is a freelance writer and photographer.

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