The big European car makers have now committed very publicly to the adoption of R744, the CO2 refrigerant, and the number of brands turning away from HFO-1234yf is growing.
At the Geneva International Motor Show, Volkswagen affirmed that its entry into CO2 technology would be rolled out progressively over its entire vehicle fleet. Other European automakers that signed during the auto show to develop CO2 systems included Daimler AG (Mercedes-Benz), Audi, BMW and now Porsche.
DuPont, which partnered with Honeywell to develop HFO-1234yf continues to trade blows, and in its latest statement claims that using carbon dioxide as an automotive refrigerant reduces fuel-efficiency of vehicles. This, they say, becomes an overriding factor in the warmer climates. Furthermore, they claim a potential for passengers to breathe unacceptable levels of carbon dioxide in the event of a refrigerant leak in a CO2 equipped vehicle.
And in a final act of defiance, Daimler officials were reported as saying at the Geneva show that the company would be prepared to pay the EU compensation for violating the MAC directive to cease using R134a in all new models from this year.
The compensation bill may be huge, because the design and implementation of CO2 systems could still be years away.
The MAC Directive, which is central to the European Union’s sustainability program, went into effect on 1 January this year. It requires that automotive air conditioning systems in new model vehicles sold in the European Union use a refrigerant with a global warming potential (GWP) of less than 150. Failure to implement the MAC Directive immediately comes at a considerable cost in terms of greenhouse gases introduced into the environment. For example, delaying the MAC Directive until the start of 2015 would result in higher greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to putting 400,000 additional cars on the road.
Sources: AG, DuPont and Reuters news service