The French government has taken formal steps to outlaw the sale of certain Mercedes-Benz models due to the German automaker’s decision to revert back to an older form of air-conditioner refrigerant (R134a) that has been banned by the European Union for new models due to its harmful effects on greenhouse gases.

A cleaner refrigerant has been developed (R1234yf) and is now the industry standard, though Mercedes stopped using the new substance last August because of concerns it was flammable in certain types of accidents, such as head-on collisions.

This led France to block sales of Mercedes models using the older substance (most of those built after June 12, 2013) which the German automaker, understandably, contested in court, in this case France’s Versailles administrative court.

Despite the court ruling on last Thursday that the sales ban should be lifted until the original decision could be re-examined, the French government the following Friday vowed to maintain the sales ban.       

Registrations “will remain forbidden in France as long as the company does not conform to European regulations,” France’s environment ministry said in a statement obtained by Reuters.

Mercedes argues that the French government had not followed the correct EU "safeguard" procedures, which includes notifying the automaker as well as the European Commission. The German automaker now plans further legal action.

Mercedes says the potential loss of sales in France accounts for roughly two percent of its annual global production, so the numbers are not insignificant. Key affected models are those from Mercedes' compact car family such as the A-Class, B-Class and new CLA.

Stay tuned for an update.


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