EUROPE: The European Commission has sent a letter of formal notice to Germany for failing to act over the use of banned R134a as a car air conditioning refrigerant.
In December 2015, the Commission decided to refer Germany to the European Court of Justice over car manufacturer Daimler’s continued use of R134a – a refrigerant that had been banned in new car models under the MAC directive.
The MAC directive stipulates that air conditioning systems in motor vehicles type-approved after 1 January 2011 may not be filled with fluorinated greenhouse gases with a GWP higher than 150. This effectively banned the use of R134a, leaving the “mildly flammable” HFO R1234yf as the only production-ready refrigerant.
After conducting its own tests, Daimler refused to use the new refrigerant on safety grounds, preferring to develop systems using CO2.
On 4 October 2018, the Court ruled that Germany had indeed failed to apply the EU framework directive (2007/46/EC) and the EU’s MAC directive (2006/40/EC).
According to the Court’s judgement, German market surveillances authorities (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt, KBA) failed to fulfil its obligations under the framework directive by allowing the car manufacturer Daimler to place automobile vehicles on the EU market that were not in conformity with the MAC directive, and subsequently failing to take remedial action and sanction the manufacturer.
On 24 July, Germany informed the Commission that it had required Daimler to recall the vehicles and that a penalty procedure had been initiated. The Commission is currently assessing the information received from the German authorities and, with this letter of formal notice, is requesting additional information on the measures taken to comply with the Court judgement. The German authorities now have two months to respond to the arguments put forward by the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Germany to the Court of Justice of the EU.