Jobs ‘on the line’ as Mercedes row heats up

Jobs 'on the line' as Mercedes row heats up
A Class Mercedes, banned in France. Photo: John Karakatsanis
A French ban on certain models of cars made by German automobile giant Mercedes is threatening hundreds of jobs, car dealers in France claim as the row over liquid coolant heats up.

Around 1,600 jobs are on the line if the French government maintains its ban on certain models of Mercedes, car sellers in France warned this week.

Since the middle of June Paris has blocked the sale of the A, B and CLA class Mercedes due to the fact the vehicles were equipped with an old liquid coolant for the air-conditioning that no longer adheres to EU regulations.

The coolant is forbidden by EU rules in vehicles that were approved for sale since the start of 2011, however up until now France is the only member of the EU to impose a ban on the sales of certain models.

That ban is threatening the future of dealerships, say Mercedes.

In an open letter published earlier this month by Jean-Claude Bernard, president of the group of Mercedes distributers and repairers said the ban hit 50 percent of Mercedes sales in France.

“Almost 5,000 cars sold cannot be delivered to our clients and registered. This means 1,600 jobs, out of a total of 11,000 in the distribution network in France, are threatened if the situation continues,” Bernard warned.

“We are seriously concerned that this situation will lead to the bankruptcy of some members of the network, who are already struggling,” he added.

Bernard complains that Mercedes dealers are being made to pay the price for a dispute at a national level between France and Germany.

France’s environment ministry insists it must  adhere to European regulations but last week it appeared that the ban may be overturned when a court in Versailles suspended the block at the request of Mercedes Benz France.

The court gave French authorities 10 days to reconsider their position, but the following day Paris used an EU rule which allows it to protect its interests by temporarily restricting certain imports to maintain the ban.

Daimler has already threatened to take France to court seeking compensation once the ban is overturned.

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