Tuesday, August 13, 2013

German KBA Authority Offers New Report on AC Refrigerant Soap Opera

If the Daimler AG versus France air-conditioning refrigerant saga would be a book, this new information would be the chapter when the plot suddenly thickens.

As you all probably know by now, France has banned the sale of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, B-Class and the CLA on their territory over the models' use of the R134a AC coolant, which will be outlawed by the European Union from 2017 for environmental reasons.

Germany's Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) recently issued a report of its findings following the subsequent testing of a number of cars that use the new R1234yf air conditioning coolant, which is set to replace the old R134a.

Their conclusion? The new refrigerant - which has been ostracized by Daimler AG following over 100 in-house test that proved it possesses an increased fire risk during certain types of head-collisions – is more hazardous than the old one, but it doesn't comprise a serious danger.

“Due to the comparisons with the previous refrigerant 134a in Stage 3, one can ascertain that the safety level of cars tends to deteriorate when 1234yf is used,” the KBA report mentioned.

Although the report is kind of in line with France's stance in the matter, looking deeper in the details given it also appears that Daimler AG is not exactly the boy who cried wolf when there wasn't any wolf in sight.

Of the four cars tested by the KBA (A Mercedes-Benz B-Class, A Hyundai i30, Subaru Impreza and an Opel Mokka) one of them burst into flames and also emitted a pretty considerable amount of the highly toxic hydrogen fluoride gas.

According to the report, quoted by Reuters, “non-negligible” amounts of the gas were detected in two of the other cars being crash tested, but the coolant itself only ignited in one test. In other words, for the time being, everyone is right about the matter. A more comprehensive final report will be released in mid-september, while the EU officials will obviously have the final word. Our say? Why don't you check out our editorial to find out a more personal opinion.

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