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Top EU court to rule in Daimler coolant row

A row over a coolant used by Daimler has ended up before the EU's top court. The European Commission accuses Germany of failing to stop the German luxury carmaker from using the climate-harmful refrigerant.

The EU executive took Germany to court on Thursday, accusing it of ignoring a 2013 EU directive that carmakers must use a new air-conditioning coolant called R1234yf. It's reputed to produce far less greenhouse gasses.

Daimler wants to carry on assembling its Mercedes models using the controversial substance, called R123a, until 2017, asserting that the newer substance could ignite during a crash and poison occupants and firefighters.

R-134a Kältemittel Kühlmittel Daimler Mercedes Benz Ravensburg Deutschland

"R-134a" labeled under a Mercedes motor hood

That claim has been rejected by the commission's research institute, Germany's transport authority, other carmakers, and even chemical giants who make the newer R1234yf.

Germany warned in 2014

Germany was

warned in September 2014

by the commission, which on Thursday said it was

proceeding to the European Court of Justice

to have Berlin punished for failing to enforce remedial action at Daimler.

Heavy fines could result for Germany, based on the duration and severity of the alleged infringement of EU law.

Despite the warning, "Germany has not taken any further steps," the commission said Thursday.

More trouble for German car industry

The case puts further pressure on Germany's auto industry amid a separate pollution cheating scandal involving Volkswagen.

And, it has added to tensions among EU countries over the way Europe's auto industry is regulated.

In July 2013, France banned the sale of some top-end Mercedes cars because they contained the older coolant. A French court later overturned that ban.

Daimler said Thursday it intended to comply with the EU law from January 2017 by installing R1234yf, but combined with a fire-protection system on board.

ipj/jil (dpa, AFP)

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