FRANKFURT, March 6 German luxury carmaker
Daimler AG and several of its German peers took an
initial step towards resolving a safety scare over a new air
conditioning refrigerant developed to meet an EU mandate.
Daimler said on Wednesday it had tasked its engineers with
developing a completely new A/C system that employs
non-flammable carbon dioxide as an alternative to the new,
flammable HFO-1234yf refrigerant favoured my most of the car
"We could agree in Geneva to press ahead with this
sustainable and safe solution together with Audi, BMW,
Porsche and Volkswagen," Daimler research and
development chief Thomas Weber said in a statement.
According to Daimler, the new HFO-1234yf poses a much
greater fire hazard than many of its fellow carmakers currently
The company's critics, including the refrigerant's producer
Honeywell International Inc, argue there are many other
flammable materials under the hood of a car and attack Daimler's
refusal to use the more expensive, climate-friendly HFO-1234yf
as a thinly veiled attempt to save money.
Weber told Reuters during the Geneva auto show on Tuesday
that Daimler would be prepared to pay the EU compensation for
violating the directive, although he stopped short of calling it
The EU mandated that the existing R134a refrigerant be
phased out beginning in January and it will be banned outright
In order to meet strict new climate change targets set by
Brussels, the auto industry agreed to use HFO-1234yf after
tests in concluded in 2009 showed it was safe.
However, prompted by safety concerns from Germany's Federal
Environment Agency, Daimler carried out its own tests, which
concluded there was no way its engineers could rule out the risk
of a potential fire caused by the refrigerant, which also emits
a highly toxic gas during combustion.