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2013-07-10 07:41

TARNISHED STAR: France has banned the sale of the latest Mercedes cars because, that country says, their aircons are too polluting. Image: AFP

FRANKFURT, Germany - The newest Mercedes cars cannot be sold in France because they use an older air-conditioning refrigerant that, the EU says, should be replaced because it creates excessive greenhouse gases.

Mercedes says the alternative - newer - gas could make their cars blow up.

"Only new cars are subject to the measure," a company spokesman told AFP, adding that customers confronted with the ban were to be offered alternative models.

RISK OF EXPLOSION

Since January 1 European Union norms demand that automakers use R1234yf refrigerant instead of R124a, which itself replaced the previous refrigerant back in 1978.

Daimler, which makes Mercedes products, is  staying with R134a because its information shows the new gas catches fire more easily and puts cars at a greater risk of explosion in a crash.

The makers of R1234yf reject that, of course, but in Germany the auto giant was given special permission to keep using the older gas and says it will persist in doing so in the hope that "in the next few years" a safer version will be available.

Only France has objected to the continued use of R134a.

However in June (2013) the European Commission, the EU's executive branch, threatened sanctions against German automakers for using the refrigerant. The commission officially notified Germany of its objections to the continued use of the gas and gave Berlin until September to comply.

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