Davies: Commission calls Daimler’s bluff

Chris Davies MEPThe 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 announcement could inflict huge damage upon Daimler’s finances and reputation.

Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani will appear in front of the Environment Committee tonight (20 March 17.30-18.30) to discuss the enforcement of the mobile air conditioning (MAC) directive, applicable since 1 January 2013.

New EU requirements to install low carbon coolants in all passenger cars and light commercial vehicles were originally due to come into force on 1 January 2011. However, manufacturers were subsequently given until 31 December 2012 to ensure the supply of the new coolant.

German car manufacturer Daimler has lobbied hard to be allowed to continue using HGC134a, an air-conditioning coolant with a global warming potential (gwp) nearly 1,500 times greater than CO2.  The industry standard is now to use HFC1234yf, which has a gwp of just 4, but the car manufacturer claims that it has conducted new tests that suggest it is inflammable at very high temperatures.

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 fully enforce the new regulations as of January 2013.

The Commission 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 the cars.

UK Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies, who was the ALDE shadow rapporteur on the 2006 MAC directive, said:

“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 tonight, 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.”

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