19 June 2009

German car makers U-Turn on CO2?

GERMAN car manufacturers may be withdrawing their backing for CO2 as the refrigerant of choice for use in car air conditioning systems.
In the race to find an alternative for R134a, most car manufacturers worldwide have appeared to back recent developments by the likes of DuPont and Honeywell with the synthetic alternative HFO1234yf. In spite of this, the German car industry, through its manufacturers' association, the VDA, has until now been backing CO2 as the natural alternative.

However, their move towards natural refrigerants may have suffered a setback in the face of commercial realities.

In a statement at the end of May, Matthias Wissmann, president of the VDA, said that the association had always expressed its desire for a global standard and realised that the continuing development of vehicle air-conditioning systems requires considerable funding for research.

'In the opinion of the VDA,' he said, 'it is very unlikely that investigation of natural and chemical refrigerants can be done in parallel, and impossible for the Germans or Europeans to develop a solution of their own, in view of the state of the global market'.

'We need agreement on a worldwide standard to maintain the competitiveness of the European automotive industry. Separate individual solutions are not an option,' Wissmann declared. 'We are continuing to focus on the most climate-friendly solution and hope that Asian, American and French manufacturers, for example, will also work towards a common standard.

'We have therefore now written to all vehicle-makers worldwide asking for a common strategy on this important topic.'

The announcement has caused some frustration amongst environmental groups. With some accusing the VDA of placing the ball in someone else's court by stating that only a global choice of CO2 would be an option.

German environmental group DUH accused the German car industry of 'breaches of promise' after having previously repeatedly stated that CO2 would be the refrigerant of choice to replace R134a.

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