Update on the introduction of R1234yf

It has been confirmed that due to a worldwide shortage of R1234yf (also known as HFO-1234yf) that insufficient volume is available to meet with both production and the after sales requirements for the motor industry. 

As a result the original introduction date of 1st January 2011 for new vehicles gaining type approval that needed to comply with the new legislation has been postponed.

Below is an extract from the latest bulletin from Brussels:

Subject: The supply shortage of an essential component in mobile air conditioning systems and its impact to the application of Directive 2006/40/EC in the automotive industry

EU car manufacturers have opted to use the so-called refrigerant HFO-1234yf in an international standardisation process that occurred in 2009 (SAE International).  Due to existing patents, companies DuPont and Honeywell are the only worldwide suppliers that can produce the refrigerant HFO-1234yf.

Those companies have communicated in late 2011 that they will not be able to supply the full amount of this refrigerant needed to the car manufacturers until the 4th quarter of 2012. The reason is that there are problems with their production facilities. On the one hand, the production facility in Japan, which was disrupted by the events following the earthquake of 11 March 2011, produces only very small volumes of the refrigerant. On the other hand, the new facility for mass production in China, that should be ready for production at the beginning of 2012, is still not operating due to a new and unexpectedly cumbersome registration process to be completed. The suppliers confirmed to the Commission that this situation will be solved in the last quarter of 2012. This situation, in turn, has an effect of non- compliance of some new models of cars with the referred Directive.

The European Commission has been informed that the national authorities have come up with different solutions to this problem. Some national authorities allow type-approval of non compliant types of vehicles, while others refuse it. As a consequence, some of the members of this Committee have written to the Commission (letter of 23 January 2012) requesting a clarification. This note intends to respond to that demand.

The European Commission has decided on 30 March 2012 that, in light of the exceptional circumstances, solely with respect to the shortage of the refrigerant, and for a limited period of time (until December 2012), the Commission will refrain from launching infringement procedures on its own initiative or when receiving complaints regarding non-conformity of vehicles manufactured before 31 December 2012 with the approval requirements.

This course of action is subject to the following conditions:

(1) New types of vehicles will continue only to be type-approved if they are fitted with MAC systems that are compatible with Directive 2006/40/EC.

(2) As long as the refrigerant HFO-1234yf is not available, and with a definitive limitation on 31 December 2012, manufacturers may continue to use the old refrigerant (so-called 134a) to fill new type-approved production vehicles, when this is technically possible.

The proposal to limit this period to 31 December 2012 is justified by the information provided by the suppliers to the Commission, as referred above, and the time needed for transportation of the gas to Europe.

For the implementation of this approach, all type-approval authorities in the Member States shall be informed by the members of the TCMV of these conditions to ensure a coordinated approach and the proper functioning of the internal market. The type approval authorities in the Member States are responsible for monitoring the implementation of the measures referred above in what regards the request for type
approval of new types of vehicles that are fitted with MAC systems that are compatible with Directive 2006/40/EC. Furthermore, the authorities in the Member States that are responsible for the certification of production (technical services), are responsible for verifying that production conforms to the Directive after 31 December 2012, or as soon as the situation of shortage is solved, if before that date.

The concerned suppliers and manufacturers have been consulted. The impact on climate of the proposed course of action is expected to be limited since currently, and until 2017, the requirements are applicable only to new types of vehicles.

Passenger cars that will be filled with HFO1234yf in 2012:
Manufacturer Model
Daimler AG  Mercedes B-Class 1,2,4
Mercedes SL 2

Hyundai  i30 1,2
ix45 (Santa Fe) 1

Kia Motors Kia cee`d 1

Renault  Zoe 3

Subaru XV 1,2

Toyota  Prius Plus (+) 1

1   Research of DUH (Jan./Feb. 2012): Written and spoken statement of the manufacturer.
2   EG-Type approval according to. RL 2007/46/EG after the 1.1.2011 provided, with written
statement of the German Federation of powered vehicles (KBA).
3   AUTOBILD, Edition 49/2011 (09.12.2011).
4   Already available on the market. According to the manufacturer the vehicles currently being delivered are filled with R134a

Further passenger cars that must be filled with a new refrigerant*

Manufacturer Model
General Motors Korea Company   Chevrolet Malibu
Great Wall Motor Company Limited   Voleex C30
Mazda Motor Corporation    CX-5
SAIC Motor Corporation Limited   MG 350 / ROVER 350

* Models with a new type approval according to RL 2007/46/EG after the 1.1.2011.These vehicles according to the EU regulation may only use a refrigerant that has a Greenhouse Warming Potential (GWP) of less than 150. The information is based on a written statement of the German Federation of powered vehicles (KBA) of 27.01.2012.

About HFO-1234yf
-Developed and manufactured jointly by DuPont and Honeywell
-Has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of just 4 – compared to 1300 for R134a
-The performance characteristics are very similar to R134a
-It is classed as mildly inflammable whereas R134a is classed as not flammable
-Lifespan if released to atmosphere is only 11 days compared with 13 years for R134a
-When stocks are available, the price will be higher than that of HFC R134a –at least initially, current cost is around €250 per kilo.

AACTA’s  advice on R1234yf

It is highly likely that there will be very little servicing or repair requirements involving R1234yf until the middle of 2012. It is expected that a limited amount of dealers, predominantly larger franchise dealers will be equipped. Volumes will begin to grow steadily from the end of 2012 onwards.

It is essential to continue the serviceability and maintenance of existing R134a refrigerant management stations (RMS). The number of vehicles on the road with R134a will continue to grow for some years.

Prepare to invest in an RMS to handle R1234yf during 2012. The cost of the new R1234 units is much higher than the current R134a machines due to design requirements and safety features necessary. The basic unit having an average cost of £4k and the advanced units with refrigerant identifiers built around the £5k price.

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