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Business

French court starts hearing on Mercedes sales ban

A Paris court has begun hearing evidence in a dispute between German carmaker Daimler and France over the use of an EU-banned car refrigerant. Daimler wants an injunction against a French sales ban of its Mercedes cars.

An administrative court in Paris on Friday started hearings on a court injunction sought by German carmaker Daimler to lift a ban on sales of some of its Mercedes cars in France.

Earlier this month, the French government halted sales of all Mercedes cars assembled since June 12. Paris said the blocked models used air-conditioning coolant R134a which had been banned from new vehicles within the European Union since that date.

Daimler said it would continue using R134a because the EU-backed replacement agent, called R1234yf, could harm passengers and firefighters should it ignite during an accident.

The Paris-imposed ban, Daimler said, had brought sales of its Mercedes A-Class, B-Class and CLA in France to a virtual standstill, preventing the delivery of about 4,500 vehicles by the end of July.

The German luxury carmaker argued the ban was illegal because it had been granted permission by Germany's car safety authority KBA to continue using the older coolant.

However, safeguard procedures allow EU governments to halt sales of the Mercedes cars until Brussels decides whether their certification complies with European law.

The EU Commission has banned R134a because it is harmful to the environment, fostering global warming. The EU's executive body is expected to start deliberations this week on whether it should launch infringement proceedings against Berlin over its use of R134a.

A ruling by the French administrative court on the Mercedes sales ban was not expected on Friday.

uhe/kms (dpa, Reuters)