Volkswagen Nixes Flammable Coolant
A new coolant has Volkswagen and other carmakers heated up! The coolant, HFO-1234yf, is scheduled to be adopted by global automakers in 2017 and preliminary testing has revealed that it can become flammable.
A group was formed, the Cooperative Research Program, to further investigate the matter. Daimler, as part of the group, conducted flammability testing that revealed the potential vehicle safety issue. Daimler and BMW then left the group after expressing the concern. Volkswagen’s Audi division also expressed concern over the coolant. Volkswagen as a whole has aligned with Daimler and BMW to support Daimler’s findings that the new refrigerant could spark a fire under the hood, emitting a highly toxic gas while burning.
HFO-1234yf was designed by Honeywell and DuPont
The European Union wants to replace the current coolant (HFC-134a) with HFO-1234yf to reduce CO2 emissions in efforts to be more environmentally friendly. It has been reported that Volkswagen will be rolling out its own carbon-dioxide based air conditioning systems, though it remains to be seen if it will be developed and approved.
In the end, the decision will come down to numbers and business. European Union Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani has openly expressed disdain at the rejection of the new coolant by Germany’s Big 3 automakers. Tajani received a written request from German ministers asking for a temporary suspension of the new EU law, to which he responded that he would listen, but would begin infringement proceedings against any member state that did not comply with new regulations. Tajani told Reuters: “Since there was some information from Germany there was a problem, I am obliged to ask for information, but it’s not giving them time. I am not weak.”
Will Germany’s Big 3 automakers win this heated battle, or will Honeywell and Dupont enjoy a billion-dollar monopoly beginning in 2017? We will have to check back with commissioner Tajani.