THE decision by Mercedes-Benz to flout the European MAC directive by continuing the use of R134a after it was banned in new-platform vehicles from 2013 has caught up with the company, which now reportedly faces a recall of at least 130,000 cars in Germany to replace the refrigerant.
In late 2015, German authorities came under pressure from the European Commission for allowing Mercedes vehicles containing R134a to be registered after the cut-off date.
They have now passed the heat onto Mercedes parent company Daimler, which refused to adopt YF due to concerns over its flammability and harmful by-products of combustion, which have since been debunked in tests by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, SAE International and German federal motor vehicle authority Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA).
German-language newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau revealed that Daimler had been ordered to perform the recall by the KBA.
According to German tabloid car magazine Auto Bild, The recall affects A-Class , B-Class, S-Class, CLA and SL models produced in the first half of 2013.
Should the recall go ahead, the number of affected vehicles is reportedly between 130,000 and 150,000, with the cost to Daimler being “a double-digit million sum” according to Frankfurter Rundschau.
Frankfurter Rundschau alsoreported that Daimler is “open to legally challenging” the recall and Auto Bild said the company confirmed it had “filed a complaint”.
German politicians and environmental groups have reportedly criticised the decision to pursue Daimler for this recall, calling for a longer transition period to alternative refrigerants in order to allow R744 technology to mature.
Umweltbundesamt (UBA), the German federal environment authority, is said to be an advocate of R744 and German distaste for YF is tangible from the way it is denigrated in the country’s media as “the US chemical” and “killer refrigerant”.
In October 2012, Mercedes-Benz announced it was recalling thousands of SL roadster models to replace the refrigerant after YF ignited “as part of a new real-life test scenario developed in-house which goes above and beyond the legally prescribed requirements,” and said it was sticking with R134a regardless of European legislation.
As a result, the French government issued a sales freeze on certain Mercedes models, which prevented delivery of around 5000 vehicles until a court overruled the two-month Benz ban.