Germany paves way for EU to rule on Honeywell car refrigerant

FRANKFURT Wed Nov 6, 2013 11:46pm IST

A view of the corporate sign outside the Honeywell International Automation and Control Solutions manufacturing plant in Golden Valley, Minnesota, January 28, 2010. REUTERS/ Eric Miller

A view of the corporate sign outside the Honeywell International Automation and Control Solutions manufacturing plant in Golden Valley, Minnesota, January 28, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/ Eric Miller

Stocks

   

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany's final report on risks posed by a new car coolant made by Honeywell (HON.N) has been issued to the European Commission, clearing the way for a decision on whether Berlin had sufficient cause to allow Daimler (DAIGn.DE) to ban it and flout EU law.

Daimler banned from its luxury cars the air-conditioning refrigerant made by Honeywell and its partner DuPont (DD.N) 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 analyze 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 fulfill 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 MAC directive.

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.

(Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner; editing by David Evans)

Religion and Politics

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Fund Raising

Fund Raising

Flipkart raises $700 million in fresh funding.   Full Article 

Reforms Push

Reforms Push

Modi may order insurance, coal reforms if vote delayed - officials.  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

India looks to sway Americans with nuclear power insurance plan  Full Article 

To Boost Growth

To Boost Growth

Crank up public spending to revive growth - chief economic adviser.   Full Article 

Bold Steps

Bold Steps

SpiceJet rescue plan marks bold bet on Indian aviation recovery.   Full Article 

New Airline

New Airline

Tata, Singapore Air venture Vistara to take off on Jan 9.  Full Article 

Online Sales

Online Sales

Knock knock. Who's there? Amazon's best-selling holiday author.  Full Article 

Hacking Attack

Hacking Attack

N.Korea says did not hack Sony, wants joint probe with U.S.  Full Article 

Reuters Poll

Reuters Poll

BSE Sensex to hit 32,980 by December 2015  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage