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Paris court strikes down Mercedes sales ban in France

France's Conseil d'Etat has backed a demand by German carmaker Mercedes to lift a ban on car registrations. Paris had stopped the sale of Mercedes cars using an old coolant banned by the EU.

The country's highest administrative court ruled that the French government's move to outlaw sales of several Mercedes models for using an air-conditioner coolant banned by Brussels had to be reversed.

The court effectively followed Daimler's line of argumentation. The company had argued that a new type of coolant, R1234yf, might be unsafe to use - Mercedes said it had found the coolant could catch fire and release dangerous gases in extreme circumstances.

The carmaker had admitted the new coolant was far more environmentally friendly than the old carbon-dioxide-heavy R134, a coolant Daimler has continued to use in it's a, B, SL and CLA class models, but added it was more concerned about safety issues with the EU-backed coolant.

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Mercedes claimed it had not been able to sell 4,500 vehicles in France since the registration ban took effect in June. Among the 28 EU members, only France decided to ban sales of models that account for roughly half of Mercedes' business.

The Counseil d'Etat ruled Paris had two days to let registration procedures continue for the cars in question.

Daimler welcomed the court's decision, but was aware of the ruling as an interim injunction, with principal proceedings still to follow.

hg/msh (dpa, Reuters)

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