FRANKFURT Nov 6 Germany's final report on risks
posed by a new car coolant made by Honeywell has been
issued to the European Commission, clearing the way for a
decision on whether Berlin had sufficient cause to allow Daimler
to ban it and flout EU law.
Daimler banned from its luxury cars the air-conditioning
refrigerant made by Honeywell and its partner DuPont
which has a far lower potential to warm the climate than an
older chemical still used by Daimler's Mercedes brand despite an
EU-wide phase out that began in January.
The EU's scientific research arm JRC is expected to analyse
the report by the German federal motor transport authority KBA
in the next few weeks and advise whether the coolant is indeed
flammable enough to cause material risks, as Daimler says.
The new Honeywell chemical, dubbed HFO-1234yf, is designed
to fulfil an EU directive, which governs the use of harmful
greenhouse gases in mobile A/C, or MAC, systems in cars.
"The ball is now in Brussels' court," a spokesman for
Germany's transport ministry said on Wednesday.
The Commission was not available for comment, but a source
familiar with the matter confirmed that it had received a copy
of the KBA's report, which it was now examining.
At stake is not just a potentially embarrassing infringement
process against Berlin for allowing Daimler to disregard the
EU's so-called "MAC Directive", but - should it be deemed
hazardous - the possible loss of billions of dollars in future
revenue for Honeywell and Dupont, who have secured an effective
monopoly on its supply until 2030.
In mid-October, DuPont's President of Chemicals and
Fluoroproducts, Thierry Vanlancker, called on German authorities
to conclude their investigation into the safety of HFO-1234yf
quickly, because the EU was still waiting on the final report by
the KBA before making a decision.
The KBA said in early August the refrigerant posed no
material risk to occupants even if it is more dangerous than the
older alternative HFC-134a that is being phased out to meet the
Honeywell said in a statement that the "overdue" final
report showed HFO-1234yf could be used safely in cars but served
also as a reminder that a single carmaker delayed compliance
with the MAC Directive for far too long.
Daimler, which is developing an A/C system that uses carbon
dioxide as a refrigerant, said on Wednesday the report confirmed
the greater dangers the carmaker cited versus HFC-134a.