“The registration of Daimler/Mercedes vehicles classes A, B, CLA and SL remain banned in France as long as the company does not conform to active European regulation,” the French environment ministry said.
According to the ministry, these high-end Mercedes models use an air conditioning coolant known as R134a which is banned by the European Union due to its environmental effects.
France is the first country to issue such a ban.
Daimler, the owner of Mercedes-Benz, has called the ban “absolutely inexplicable” and announced plans to seek legal action.
The use of the coolant is not exclusive to Mercedes-Benz, however. Jean-Claude Bernard, head of the French Association of Mercedes-Benz dealers told the Financial Times, “This coolant is used in 95 percent of cars in France with air conditioning. If it is so dangerous they should take them all off the road.”
Bernard estimates that the affected vehicles typically sell about 30,000 models per year, translating to about 50 percent of total sales.
The E.U. ban on R134a went into effect in January, while the German automobile industry gave Daimler permission to continue using the coolant until 2017.
Daimler has claimed that the new coolant imposed by the E.U. is extremely flammable.