Verheugen warns OEMs: From 2011, no sales of new types without new MAC

By team, Sep 02, 2009, 10:25 3 minute reading

European Industry Commissioner Günter Verheugen has confirmed the 2011 deadline, stating that consumers could only choose between a new car without air conditioning or an old car if carmakers opt for non-compliance with the MAC Directive. He clearly accused car manufacturers of not placing orders for new MAC systems and will now further investigate available technologies.

The Vice President of the European Commission Verheugen has issued a clear warning to carmakers selling vehicles in the EU that, unless they comply with the law to ban R134a from their air conditioning systems, they will not be able to offer new types of cars with an air conditioning, starting in 2011. He also left no doubt that alternative technologies were ready and that he would not delay the implementation of the legislation as this was car manufacturers' own making. His response came to a parliamentary question posed by UK Member of European Parliament Chris Davies comparing the tacit boycott of the EU MAC Directive and car manufacturers’ attitude to a poker play.

Car industry’s gambling

“It seems we are in a poker game, and the question is who will blink first? If the European Union backs down we risk opening the floodgates to special pleading from a host of industry groups anxious to weaken our climate change legislation. Commissioner. An issue of principle is at stake. Will you now call the car makers' bluff and raise the stakes?” stated Chris Davies in his question to Commissioner Verheugen.

Far from being surprised, Verheugen confirmed this statement by arguing that the sole reason why car makers were today arguing they weren’t ready is that they had not placed the orders to suppliers, hence creating a limbo situation where an egg and chicken mode prevented mass-production.

"The rule is in force. It has to be applied. New cars must meet the new requirements or the vehicles will not receive type approval and cannot be placed on the market," Verheugen confirmed, before continuing: "I am convinced the production capacity can be made available."

He added that he would personally send representatives to check within the industry what technologies were available. This, however, would not be needed to fortify his conviction that the supplying industry would be long ready to provide alternatives to R-134a MAC systems.

No market for new cars without new MAC

As a result, Verheugen put the ball in the carmakers' court who will now have to decide if non-compliance will pay off for them. Assuming that OEMs would not be ready with new MAC systems by 2011, consumers would either have the choice to buy a new car without air conditioning or an old car with an old air conditioning.

Media and Policy reactions

As an immediate reaction to Verheugen’s response, MEP Chris Davis showed his satisfaction by stating: “The selfish behaviour of the car manufacturers has shown complete disregard for wider interests. They have had billions of euros in support from national governments, and it is time that they took a lead in helping reach Europe’s ambitions of reducing the release of global warming gases.”

"Now the European Commission has raised the stakes and told them 'don't mess with us!' The message could not be more clear."

Shortly after, Newswire Reuters reported on the issue, adding that “the emerging market for greener refrigerants pits industry giant Honeywell International with its HFO-1234yf coolant against rival carbon dioxide-based cooling systems such as that of Austria's Obrist Engineering, Germany's Ixetic and U.S.-based Visteon.

Background MAC Directive

In April 2009, the European Commission had issued a clarification of a pseudo-loophole in the MAC Directive to Member States and Type-approval authorities, the bodies responsible for the implementation of EU MAC legislation at national level. Since then, ACEA, the European car manufacturer lobby group, had called for a two-year delay in the implementation of the EU Directive.


By team (@r744)

Sep 02, 2009, 10:25

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