Currently reading: Mercedes' UK cars 'not affected' by EU air-con refrigerant dispute
Mercedes moves to reassure UK customers after France bans some models
Darren Moss
News
2 mins read
18 July 2013

Mercedes-Benz says the sale of its vehicles in the UK is not affected by a ban imposed on its A and B-class and SL models in France.

The ban of sales of these three models was imposed in June after Mercedes vehicles were sold with a phased-out air conditioning refrigerant - which France says is in breach of European Union rules.

Since January this year many car manufacturers have agreed to switch to using a new type of air-conditioning refrigerant, R1234yf, and to phase out old R1234a refrigerant - reportedly 1000 times more potent than C02 as a global warming agent.

Mercedes and its parent company Daimler have continued to use the older refrigerant in its cars, however, citing safety concerns. The manufacturer says that results from its own crash tests show the new refrigerant has the potential to ignite.

The refrigerant's maker, Honeywell, says there is "no significant risk" of this happening.

Mercedes has had its cars re-certified to European standard in Germany and says its cars are fully legal.

"The cars were re-tested to the same standard as all other cars," said a Mercedes spokesperson "The cars do have valid EU-type approval and are legal to be registered, sold and driven."

The European Commission has officially notified the German government of its objections to Daimler continuing to use the old refrigerant - giving the company until September to comply with the new standards.

In a statement the European Commission said that "corrective measures shall be taken to bring the [non-conforming] vehicles in conformity, including the withdrawal of those non-conforming vehicles already sold on the market."

No other country has enforced a ban on new Mercedes registrations.

Daimler has said it will continue to use the old refrigerant until a 'safer' alternative becomes available. Alongside other manufacturers, the company is working on a C02-based refrigerant that it will introduce into the market before the next EU emissions deadline, which comes into force at the end of 2016.

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pauld101 7 August 2013

I never thought I'd say it, but we should follow the French...

Mercedes have pulled a fast one and are profiteering.  If, like me, you think that it's time that the German automotive industry is held to account and made to comply with the same environmental standards as the rest of the European automotive industry, please follow the link below and sign my e-government petition.  Thank you.  http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/53299

Chris C 19 July 2013

R134a/1234yf

289 pretty much hits the nail on the head after all the initial EU bashing hysteria.

1234yf has always been seen as expensive and potentially very limited in supplier choice. CO2 refrigeration has been mooted for decades - I remember Rover/Land Rover investigating it in the 90's. It has a problem of running at very high pressures which also can have implications in a collision/failure. 134a has proven not to be the totally green solution, albeit much better than R12, but there does not seem to be a perfect solution at the moment (evaporative water systems notwithstanding...).

Some of the problem is the design of modern cars, eg glass area and orientation - there may be scope for better insulation to reduce the aircon load required.

 

GermanPower 18 July 2013

I notice that no JLR vehicles

I notice that no JLR vehicles have been banned in France so they must be using the flammable refrigerant. It figures that they don't care about their customers' safety given the XFs appalling Euro NCAP score.

Citytiger 18 July 2013

GermanPower wrote:I notice

GermanPower wrote:

I notice that no JLR vehicles have been banned in France so they must be using the flammable refrigerant. It figures that they don't care about their customers' safety given the XFs appalling Euro NCAP score.

 

So by the same logic, does that mean all the other Mercedes models are using the flammable refrigerant as well, or have they just resorted to not fitting air-con, and you obviously missed this news story.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2188229/Most-luxury-cars-including-Mercedes-fail-new-Insurance-Institute-frontal-crash-test.html

and this one

http://www.autoblog.com/2012/10/24/2012-mercedes-benz-e-class-coupe-recalled-for-bad-curtain-airbag/

 

Christian Galea 19 July 2013

@ Citytiger - as regards the

@ Citytiger - as regards the airbags, I'm pretty certain that Merc don't actually manufacture them...so if anything it's the airbag supplier's fault, not Merc.

Re. the small-overlap test, the only reason Merc didn't do so well is because of some intrusion in the footwell and because the side airbags didn't fire; otherwise, its structure looked overall very solid - the safety cell held better than pretty much all of the cars tested, and that is a fundamental issue in passive safety which is quite harder to solve than the above 2 issues.

As for the issue of this article...I can't see why the French are making such a fuss about it unless they're trying to deviate sales away from Merc to their local brands, but Citroen/Renault/Peugeot are hardly competitors to Merc so if anything the lost sales are going to Audi and BMW. Personally, if what Merc is saying is true (and I have no reason to believe it isn't), then I'd rather have a safer refrigerant than one that is less polluting for the interim until a better alternative is found.

289 wrote:

"A 3rd party highlighted the A-Classes ability to topple over, not M-B"

...Scotty, what the f**k has that got to do with this! and by the way the 3rd party ( a magazine) deliberately performed a manoeuvre not reccomended for ANY high sided or high centre of gravity vehicle.

How many old A-class have you ever seen lying on their sides in the road in the 15 years of production?

I do have to agree with this, and add that the test performed was pretty unrealistic in real-life situations - I once saw a vid of an A-Class performing an emergency manoeuvre at 70mph with no dire consequences whatsoever.

289 19 July 2013

@ Christian Galea

".I can't see why the French are making such a fuss about it unless they're trying to deviate sales away from Merc to their local brands, but Citroen/Renault/Peugeot are hardly competitors to Merc"

 I would normally agree with you Christian, but to an extent the new B-class and definitely the new A-class are seriously stepping on the French manufacturers toes now...The SL is a complete mystery though.

I am going to loook into why the gas is only in certain models though...this is curious

289 19 July 2013

M-B refrigerant row

...I may have got to the bottom of this....according to Reuters who's reporting accuracy I rate above Autocar's it is the A-Class, B-class and CLA-class which are affected. NOT the SL!

 

This all starts to make sense now...I havent looked but aren't all of these three (the A and CLA are the same car basically), tranverse engined?

Therefore any broken refrigerant lines in an accident or otherwise would spray onto the exhaust/Turbo?

All other M-B's have inline engines? (stand to be corrected on this if not correct)

 

"After confirming their August results in subsequent tests, Daimler notified the authorities in late September that it wanted to recall all 1,300 cars worldwide that already use the new refrigerant. -so I dont believe this is based on costs grounds

 

A month later, with only a few weeks to go until the phase-in of HFO-1234yf begins, 13 major carmakers quietly began a new fourth round of safety tests to assess the accuracy of the Daimler results, which showed combustion occurring in more than two-thirds of the cases after a simulated head-on collision.

 

Meanwhile, Honeywell and Dupont are in full-blown damage control mode.

 

They stand to lose a fortune in wasted development costs and forfeited future revenue. Honeywell alone has secured over 100 patents for the product worldwide"

Apparently this refrigerant is very expensive - up to 10 times as expensive! but since M-B would build that into the car pricing it is clearly not their issue...safety IS, it is what their reputation is based on and it is well known that their tests go well beyong the standard EC /EU regime.

 

"Simulating a leak in the air-conditioning line of a Mercedes B-Class tourer, they had released a fine mixture of refrigerant and A/C compressor oil, which sprayed across the car's turbo-charged 1.6 litre engine.

 

The substance caught fire as soon as it hit the hot surface, releasing a toxic, corrosive gas as it burned. The car's windshield turned milky white as lethal hydrogen fluoride began eating its way into the glass.

 

"We were frozen in shock, I am not going to deny it. We needed a day to comprehend what we had just seen," said Stefan Geyer, a senior Daimler engineer who ran the tests".

The gases given off when burning are lethal as well.

"It was scarcely believable. The most complicated lab tests conducted using the most sensitive measuring instruments around found nothing and all we do is drive a car around a couple of times, open a tiny hole in the refrigerant line and the next thing you know the car is on fire," said Geyer.

Had he seen a February 2008 report by a small Austrian firm, Obrist Engineering, he might have known that combustion could occur at engine operating temperatures.

 

Obrist identified a risk of secondary fire and urged further investigation to assess the implications for passengers, citing the relatively low concentrations of toxic emissions needed to kill a human being".

So at first look it is a case of Honeywell have a lot to lose, but lose they will as M-B and VW Group are now working on a A/C system which uses Co2 a totally inert gas with no combustion issues.

Here is the link to the full article-

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/12/12/uk-europe-cars-refrigerant-idUKBRE8BB0HE20121212

Citytiger 21 July 2013

Christian Galea wrote: @

Christian Galea wrote:

@ Citytiger - as regards the airbags, I'm pretty certain that Merc don't actually manufacture them...so if anything it's the airbag supplier's fault, not Merc.

Re. the small-overlap test, the only reason Merc didn't do so well is because of some intrusion in the footwell and because the side airbags didn't fire; otherwise, its structure looked overall very solid - the safety cell held better than pretty much all of the cars tested, and that is a fundamental issue in passive safety which is quite harder to solve than the above 2 issues.

Whether mercedes manufacture the airbags or not, they sell the vehicles they are fitted in so they have a duty of care to ensure they work correctly.

As for the small-overlap test, mercedes rightly claim to a large amount of first in the pursiut of safety, however its funny how another marque with a claim to safety, presented the S60, a vehicle based on a Ford/Volvo designed and now fairly old platform and it passed the test and performed the best of every car on test , there is no excuse for a prestige marque to fail, especially not one with the massive budget they have compared to Volvo.