EU Court partly rules against Germany in mobile AC case

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) said that Germany had failed to fulfil its obligations under the MAC Directive, but would not pay a fine.

The principal entrance to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. 

Copyright: Court of Justice of the European Union 

Last week (4 October 2018), the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled partly against the Federal Republic of Germany after finding that the country had failed to “fulfil its obligations” under the MAC Directive, which prohibits the use of f-gases with a global warming potential (GWP) more than 150 times greater than CO2 in new types of car and van introduced from 2011, and in all new cars and vans produced from 2017. But the court ruled that the country would not pay a fine.

Germany was referred to the ECJ by the European Commission, on 10 December 2015, for circumventing and failing the enforce the MAC Directive on three counts. Last week’s ECJ ruling upholds only two of the complaints.

The ECJ concluded that Germany had allowed Daimler AG, a German vehicle manufacturer, to continue using the fluorinated gas R134a (a HFC with a GWP higher than the 150 allowed under the MAC Directive) in newly-built car air-conditioning systems that were type-approved for use with R1234yf (an HFO with a GWP less than 150) after January 2011.

The ECJ ruled that Germany failed to take measures “to restore conformity” in some Daimler AG vehicle types by not ordering the German car company to recall cars filled with R134a until 2017 as required by the MAC Directive, thereby upholding the Commission’s first complaint. On the second count of failing to “take the measures necessary to implement penalties” against Daimler, the ECJ also found in favour of the Commission.

However, on the third count the ECJ did not accept the Commission’s assertion that Germany circumvented and infringed the requirements of the Directive by accepting an application by Daimler, on 17 May 2013, to extend a type approval for an R134a system in another series of cars.

The ECJ has now ruled that Germany should bear the costs of fighting the case in the court, as well as half of the Commission's costs.

It should be noted that although Daimler was ordered to recall the cars filled with R134a in 2017 by the German Transport Authority (KBA), the recall is yet to take place.

“The KBA has asked us to upgrade a limited number of vehicles with the refrigerant R1234yf. Against this call we have filed an objection,” a Daimler spokesperson stated in an email to Accelerate Europe (a publication by shecco, publisher of the website) in September 2018. “133,000 vehicles [are affected by the recall] in the A, B, CLA and SL-Class, which were brought in the first half of 2013 on the market.”

“Almost our entire fleet of Mercedes-Benz [a Daimler AG brand] cars was converted to the refrigerant R1234yf in Europe as of [2017 in accordance with the MAC Directive],” the spokesperson added.

The car company is now using R744 MAC systems in its S-Class Mercedes-Benz series of cars. Since 2016 it has made the refrigerant available in its E-Class, and will slowly ramp up production.

By Charlotte McLaughlin

Oct 08, 2018, 16:52

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