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German TV explains car industry boycott of EU law

10 April 2009

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After several months of close monitoring, Germany’s leading public channel ARD yesterday reported about the delaying tactics of carmakers trying to use loopholes in an EU law banning climate-damaging refrigerants from 2011 on. According to ARD, the industry intends to use R134a in new models labelled as old ones.
Yesterday, two million viewers could gain an insight into the state of play regarding the use of alternative refrigerants in German cars. According to the leading political programme “Kontraste”, aired at 9.45 pm on Germany’s first public TV channel ARD, the car industry could have found a way to avoid switching to a new Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) refrigerant at all, by not complying with an EU law stipulating the use of climate-friendly refrigerants from 2011 on. 

The background: As from 2011 on, no new passenger vehicle is allowed to use a refrigerant with a Global Warming Impact (GWP) of above 150. This applies first only to new models while six years later would be applicable to all cars. By simply labelling a new car model as an old one with minor revisions, and hence getting a partial type approval excluding the air conditioning, the industry plans to continue using the same climate-damaging refrigerant R134a that was meant to be banned by the EU law. As a result, carmakers would deliberately undermine the intention of the EU Commission to reduce direct emissions of high global warming refrigerants to help fulfil obligations under the global Kyoto Protocol treaty.

A deliberate boycott of laws?

The Kontraste team, having investigated the issue over the last six months, came to this conclusion after unequivocal affirmations by Germany’s automotive industry association VDA to start serial production of CO2 MAC half a year ago had not resulted in any major contract signed with suppliers of the innovative technology up until now. At the same time, German carmakers having tested the proposed chemical HFO-1234yf had clearly stated that they would not use the flammable and toxic substance in future cars, but instead use the natural refrigerant CO2 (R744).

Late 2008, Thomas Schlick, VDA, affirmed that “car companies having already finalised all tests with the alternative refrigerant will now concretely put CO2 MAC into practice”. Asked by ARD again six months later, Schlick, speaking on behalf of all German car companies not wanting to reply to the Kontraste team directly, limited its answer about concrete progress on the mass production of CO2 Technology to: “There is a 2011 deadline to comply with this EU Directive and you can assume that we will comply with all laws.”

With the 2011 deadline approaching and time running out to prepare for a serial use of CO2 Technology, the only conclusion to be drawn would be that the industry is preparing for a prolonged use of current MAC systems beyond the 2011 date.

“Technology from the past in eco cars of today”

Asking all major carmakers at the Geneva auto show what are the next steps regarding environmentally benign MAC, no single expert was able to reply. The current environment bonus provided by the German government to consumers scrapping their old car and buying a more environmentally friendly model, would be a “sham package” as the car industry would not be willing to build truly green cars, as can be seen using the example of car air conditioning. “Technology from the past in eco cars of today” would deceive consumers and keep them from significant cost savings by using a CO2 system.

To demonstrate a clear support for R744, the Federal Environment Agency UBA, the Environment Ministry, and the leading German NGO Deutsche Umwelthilfe have now joined forces to promote the introduction of CO2 in Mobile Air Conditioning, the public transport and trains. An expert discussion will be held on 6 May in Berlin. R744.com will keep you updated on latest developments.






Comments

Anonymous

That's typical for the old school car industry, they are unflexible for new (greener) technologies, it is for them "work of the devil". One reason for this unflexibility is: they are too big! Have you asked yourself why we can't buy competitive hydrogen or electric cars today? It is easy, because the car industry is working together with the oil industry! I think they don't know what progress is! Profit for the managers, that's what they want, nothing else! Hopefully TESLA MOTORS and some Asian car producers (e.g. Hyundai) are able to give the old school car industry a good scare! Means: Bye bye Hummer, Dodge, Porsche, Ferrari, Jaguar, ,.......! Thanks to the European Commission and other institutions who look into the future!
added 2009-04-11 16:33:40

Anonymous

Anyone read the last Automotive Airconditioning Reporter? Interesting reading on page 9 where it talks about the MAC convention in th e US: Ward Atkinson added that the SAE rejects a retrofit of R134a systems to HFO1234yf, and that it will be very likely also forbidden due to safety issue. Not only because there were was a fiasco when they tried to fill R134a into R22 MACs in the 90s (substantial contamination problems!) but also because R134a are "not sutiable to carry the mildly flammable HFO-1234yf". I thought 1234yf was a direct retrofit ???? That's what Honeywell tells us all the time.... And another interesting quote from the same magazine: "HFO-1234yf will most likely be more expensive than R-134a". Ok, in terms of cost efficiency of CO2 we are getting there, right?
added 2009-04-13 18:35:45

Ross Bradshaw

...and it has been over ten years that hydrocarbons have been used successfully in MACs in America, Australia and parts of Asia. Why don't we hear more about this real world use of an environmentally preferable alternative refrigerant? I mentioned this in person to Ward Atkinson many years ago at a conference in Washington DC, but what could he say. Interestingly Greenpeace is now looking more closely at MACs.
added 2009-04-14 02:36:50

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