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Mobile air-conditioning systems (MACs)

To reduce emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases from mobile air-conditioning systems (MACs), the European Directive on MACs introduces a gradual ban on these gases in passenger cars. Fluorinated greenhouse gases with a global warming potential (GPW) higher than 150 will no longer be used in MAC systems. By reducing these emissions, the Directive contributes to the EU's strategy for climate action.

How does it work?

  • The Directive 2006/40/EC covers MACs fitted to passenger cars (vehicles of category M1) and light commercial vehicles (category N1, class 1).
  • The traditionally used refrigerant in MAC systems, R134a, has a GWP of 1300. The aim of the Directive is to enforce the use of gases with GPW lower than 150.
  • The Directive does not specify any particular refrigerant or system, leaving the technical choice on the car manufacturers.

Enforcement of the Directive

The Directive is being gradually enforced over three phases:

Phase 1

From 21 June 2008, car manufacturers have not been able to obtain a type approval for a new type of vehicle if fitted with MACs:

  • containing gases with a GWP higher than 150
  • leaking more than 40 grams of the refrigerant per year (one evaporator system)
  • leaking 60 grams of the refrigerant per year (dual evaporator systems).

As of 21 June 2009, this has applied to all new vehicles on the EU market.

Phase 2

From 1 January 2011, air conditioning systems in new vehicle types must be filled with a refrigerant that has a low impact on the climate. This means that fluorinated greenhouse gases with a GWP of higher than 150 can no longer be used in the MAC systems of newly type-approved vehicles.

Phase 3

From 1 January 2017, the use of fluorinated greenhouse gases with a GWP higher than 150 in all new vehicles put on the EU market will be totally banned. New vehicles with MAC systems using these gases will not be registered, sold, or able to enter into service in the EU.

Infringement of the Directive

In December 2015, the European Commission decided to refer Germany to the Court of Justice of the EU over the failure to apply Directive 2006/40/EC. National type-approval authorities have the obligation to certify that a vehicle meets all EU safety, environmental and production requirements – including those on mobile air-conditioning systems – before authorising it to be placed on the EU market.

The Commission alleges that Germany has infringed EU law by allowing the car manufacturer Daimler AG to place automobile vehicles on the EU market that were not in conformity with the MAC Directive, and failing to take remedial action.

Daimler AG invoked safety concerns regarding the use of refrigerants prescribed by the MAC Directive. These concerns were not shared by any other car manufacturer and were rejected by Germany's Federal Motor Transport Authority (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt, KBA) and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC), which undertook an additional risk analysis in 2014.

Despite contacts between the Commission and the German authorities in the context of the infringement procedure, Germany has not taken any further steps against the issuing of the type-approval of non-compliant motor vehicles and has not taken appropriate remedial action on the manufacturer.

In referring Germany to the Court of Justice, the Commission aims to ensure that the climate objectives of the MAC Directive are fulfilled and that EU law is uniformly applied throughout the EU so as to ensure fair competitive conditions for all economic operators.

Supporting documents