France Imposes Sales Ban On Mercedes-Benz

The ban seems fairly mean spirited, and will surely hurt Mercedes.

In a move which will not be casting them in a particularly positive light, the French government has decided to ban the sales of certain Mercedes-Benz models over the issue of air conditioning refrigerant. The controversy focuses around R134a gas, originally introduced as a more environmentally friendly alternative to R12, but which has now been banned by the EU in favor of the still more eco-friendly R1234yf now used by automakers.

Mercedes-Benz had been using the new gas up until June of this year, when they say that new evidence has suggested the gas can be flammable in certain types of accidents. Citing this safety risk, the German manufacturer has switched back to R134a on the A-Class, B-Class and CLA-Class. An EU court has ruled that this will be allowed for the time being, until the evidence can be reviewed. But France decided to ban the cars from sale anyway, in effect violating an EU ruling in order to punish Mercedes-Benz for violating an EU ruling. It defies logic, but it’s hardly new for France to legislate xenophobia.

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Mercedes will be taking legal action against the French environmental ministry; and it has pointed out that, not only does the ban itself violate the EU’s ruling, but the proper procedure of giving notice to the manufacturer and the European Commission was also ignored by the government. France accounts for about 2 percent of Mercedes-Benz’s global sales, and even though not all models have been banned, Mercedes will surely feel the effects of such a ban.

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